By Tom Vander Well
But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14 (NLT)
I am reminded this morning of this simple truth that is so easily forgotten. We think of evil as those things that are obviously dark and deathly. Along the journey I have come to realize that one of the most insidious things about evil is that it often masquerades in such a way so as to appear good and upstanding.
In his book, People of the Lie, M. Scott Peck take a clinical look at the nature of evil in people. He writes:
It is necessary to draw the distinction between evil and ordinary sin. It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.
…The evil appear to be most ordinary. They live down the street…on any street. They may be rich or poor, educated or uneducated. There is little that is dramatic about them. They are not designated criminals. More often than not they will be “solid citizens”-Sunday school teachers, policemen, or bankers, and active in the PTA.
In todays chapter, Paul is trying to get the believers in Corinth to understand that some men who had come to their town claiming to have authority as men sent by Jesus were actually deceivers. Evil masquerading as servants of the Light. So it is with evil. The real question is how are we to respond to it? Too often in history we have responded with witch hunts and inquisitions to try and root it out evil by human means which quickly turn to evil in and of themselves.
I’ve learned along the way that my responsibility as a follower of Jesus is to be observant, shrewd and on guard so as to recognize evil when I encounter it. I am then called to overcome evil by living out greater measures of grace, love and goodness. I find it interesting that Paul was not obsessed with hunting down these false teachers and punishing them for their deception. His energy was given to writing, loving and investing himself in the believers at Corinth so that the effect of the “people of the lie” might be minimized.
Today, I’m reminded that evil is overcome by greater good. I’m going to do some good today.