A few years ago, a colleague of mine introduced me to NPR. Since then, I’ve gotten fond of feeling smarter when I get out of the car. Recently, I caught part of All Things Considered, featuring Emily Parker, the author of Now I Know Who My Comrades Are, as she explained how the Internet is changing activism. While the program itself was interesting, one quote resonated with me: “Fear, isolation, and apathy are the most effective weapons of authoritarian regimes.”
Beyond the intentional use of these tools by tyrannical governments, these same things are just a few of the ways that evil works in creation. While many folks are not quick to talk about evil, it is a reality that exists in our world. And we can’t fully appreciate the love and grace of God without measuring the height and depth of evil.
Some talk about evil in a personified way – the devil or Satan (from the Hebrew word ha’satan, which simply means “the accuser”). Others, myself included, tend to talk about evil as the accumulation of sin, personal and corporate, that has accumulated over time such that none of us get to start with a blank slate in this life.
Evil is insidious. To share a personal example, this week, I had to make a decision about an invitation from my conference, the regional body that oversees United Methodist churches. It was a great honor and something I have sincere interest in doing. However, there remains the little fact that the start of the training would fall right around my due date. I was divided. Did I decline for the sake of my family and potentially set my career back? Or did I commit to the training, pressing through the late stages of pregnancy and the sleepless nights as the mother of a newborn?
I ended up calling a trusted friend to hear my thoughts and help me figure out what I should do. And through our conversation, I saw clearly how I had resisted evil in one little way in my life. I overcame my fear of appearing weak or unambitious to discern what was truly right for me, what was truly life-giving and of God in this season of life. I refused to let myself be isolated, thinking that I had to make this decision alone without prayer and counsel.
Fear, isolation, and apathy affect us individually and corporately. The Wall Street Journal reported that recent voter turnout for federal elections in India reached 66%, or about 814 million people. In comparison, 57.5% of eligible voters in our country voted in the 2012 elections, which equates to 126 million people. It astonishes me that so many of us don’t vote when the right to vote was so contested and hard won for many. It’s apathy. It’s believing that our voice doesn’t matter. It’s withdrawing our gifts and graces from the larger body. And it’s not a way that leads to life.
These are only a few examples of things that can be the slippery slope, the seemingly innocent temptations, the habits of our minds, and the way evil can work in the world. This week, at the Krum Church, we’ll talk about how Easter people work the fields. I’m not much of a gardener or farmer, as any of my church folks can tell you, but I do believe that Jesus calls us to the fields.
For the past few weeks, I’ve also been out asking for donations or sponsorships for our Senior Breakfast. It’s a 50+ year tradition our church has of celebrating our graduating seniors. And I’ve been wonderfully surprised at the generosity of our community. In many cases, all I have had to do is ask and the gifts are given, cheerfully and willingly. But I have to work the fields. The gifts don’t come in unless someone asks.
As Christians, we are called to do the same. Jesus “said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Luke 10:2). Our brothers and sisters are waiting for a word of good news, something that gives hope and life in the midst of fear, isolation, and apathy. We have been entrusted with the gospel, not to hoard, but to share and celebrate. Our friends, family, and neighbors don’t become part of the Body of Christ unless someone asks. May we all be good news to someone this week!