What Is The Only Thing Worse Than Evil?

Text: Luke 11:14-28

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

How do we understand the relationship between good and evil?

This question has been contemplated in every single generation on every single continent, for hundreds of years.  Indeed, the subject of good and evil turns up in philosophy, theology, folklore, books, movies, and so on.

In fact, looking back to ancient Greek mythology, many of the fake gods and goddesses wrestle with good and evil. In other words, many of the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology were neither purely good nor purely evil.  They dabbled in both. The Greeks many times saw things in shades of gray, not black-and-white.

We see the same blurring of good and evil in our current culture. Simply go to the movie theater to watch one of the most recent superhero movies, and you will quickly realize that Batman and Spider-man are not always purely good.  Furthermore, in our superhero movies, we will often find good guys fighting good guys and bad guys acting good, which really confuses the distinction between good and evil even more.  And quite often, books are written in ways that we find ourselves cheering for the villain.

Now, I do not share this to be a killjoy; however, I do share this as just one example of how we try to process good and evil.  We examine good and evil from every sides. In so doing, we often blur the line between good and evil; we cheer on the villain and we pit good against good.  Again, this kind of rearranging can make for a good novel; however, if we are not careful, this kind of rearranging of good and evil can have devastating effects not only on our ethics but our Christian faith as well.

Dear friends, most people acknowledge the existence of good and evil. Evil exists; goodness exists. This is fairly self-evident to most people in society. However, where things become problematic is how we understand good and evil.  Where does evil end and good begin?  Where do we draw the line between good and evil?  That is to say; where things become problematic is when we swap good for evil and evil for good, or when we blend them together into a shade of gray.

This is the problem that is being addressed in our reading from the gospel of Luke. In our gospel reading, Jesus is accused of doing evil when in fact He is doing good. You see, some people condemned Jesus’s work as the work of the devil. They said,

“He [Jesus} drives out demons by Beelzebub, the chief of demons.”

They foolishly accused Jesus of making an alliance with the devil.  Now, this is problematic not only because it is a false accusation but because it blurs the line between good and evil. 

Jesus, though, resists this characterization. He responded,

“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste.”

In other words, if Jesus was partnering with the devil, why would He work against the devil?  Why would the devil empower Jesus to sabotage the kingdom of darkness?

Dear friends, it is quite simple: there is no alliance between Jesus and the devil. Light has nothing to do with darkness. Goodness is not in partnership with evil.  What this means is that those accusing individuals were about Jesus and were grossly confusing good and evil. 

There is a profound application to all of this though.  That is, the church cannot be in alliance with anything evil.  That is right; if the church aligns herself with evil, she is then separating herself from Christ. As we have established, Christ has nothing to do with Satan (light has nothing to do with darkness); therefore, if the church is tempted to align herself with evil, she is splitting herself away from Christ.

In our day and age, there is a great temptation for the church to be seduced by the devil into the tricks of the old Adam and the ideologies of the world.  Furthermore, all around us we find churches selling out to the kingdom of darkness in exchange for fame, money, power, and greater numbers.  We too can be tempted to make friends with evil to give an advantage to our church and denomination. We may be tempted to use Satan’s weapons in the cause of good but only for a time. But all that this does is divide the church away from Christ.

Dear friends, we cannot befriend evil without dividing the church. And just in case you might think that this is an overreaction, ask yourself this: if Satan is not willing to have a divided kingdom, how can a divided church be of benefit for Jesus?  If Satan does not want to be divided, why are we so quick to roll our eyes and say,

“The church needs to quit being so strict and old fashioned and catch up with the times! It is the twenty-first century after all!”   

What we are learning from our gospel reading is that there is no alliance with evil for Christ, and there is no alliance with evil and the church. That means when it comes to the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness, there is no neutrality for you. As a Christian, you cannot ride the fence, you cannot wave the Swiss flag, you cannot lay down an independent voter’s card, and you cannot have your cake and eat it too.  When it comes to good and evil, Christ and the devil, light and dark – there is no middle ground.  In fact, the only thing worse than evil is indifferent neutrality. Yes, pay attention, the only thing worse than being evil is being indifferent.  Permit me an opportunity to explain.  Listen closely!    

When we are indifferent, we do not have a compulsion towards one thing or another. Indifference is shrugging the shoulders and saying, “Whatever.”  Indifference goes the way of apathy, and a lack of concern.  Indifference goes the way of disinterest, aloofness, complacency, casualness, and laziness.  Indifference does not recognize the evil that comes from evil, and it does not recognize the good that comes from good. Indifference doesn’t care.  And so indifference becomes the devil’s best friend and Christ’s worst enemy. Listen carefully and mark these words, it isn’t liberal evolutionary atheists that kill the church but it is the spirit of indifference that exists from within the pews of the church. One more time; disorganized indifference from ‘inside’ the walls of the church are far more destructive than the most organized forces of evil from ‘outside’ the church. As much as we do not agree with agnostics and atheists, at least we can respect them for not going the way of indifference.  At least we can respect them for having convictions – picking a side – rather than floating in the nothingness of indifference. 

Dear friends, evil exists. Goodness exists. They are different. There is no gray. There is no neutrality. And indifference?  Indifference is not an option. The reason why, because of Jesus.

You, who have ears, hear. You are God’s beloved child. This is your position in Jesus’s church. You are loved, really loved. You are forgiven, really forgiven. You are accepted, really accepted because Jesus shed His blood on Mt. Calvary – for you. There is no such thing as indifference where you are kind of loved, kind of forgiven, kind of accepted, and kind of belong to Jesus.  Indifference is nonsense! 

In your baptisms, the Lord snatched you from the kingdom of darkness and placed you not into slushy indifference but into the kingdom of light. Indeed, Jesus rescued you from the pits of hell unto forgiveness, life, and salvation. And so, you belong to Jesus, not the devil, and especially not indifference. You are called to walk not in darkness, or loaf in indifference but to walk in love as a saint.

Yes, you heard that right, you are a saint of Christ? You have been called through the Word of the Gospel and set apart as God’s own.  You were once in the world darkness, but now you are in the light of the Lord. 

What all of this means is quite simple. As blood-bought Baptized Saint, you shall have no part of the sins of the old Adam and the darkness of the world.  How can a child of the light dance in the darkness?  How can a child bathed in the waters of baptism, swim in the abyss of sin?  Faith is living, not apathetic, like indifference!  Furthermore, your lips and your tongue receive the very body and blood of Christ; therefore your tongue and mouth are sanctified not to delight in slander, gossip, and talk bitterly about your neighbor, but to rejoice, praise, and speak that which is of best construction about your neighbor.

Dear Baptized Saints, because there is no friendship with the devil and because there is no neutral gray between good and evil, you are called to walk as a child of the light. You have been separated from darkness. You belong to Christ’s Church. This is who you are. So when you find yourself dabbling in indifference or flirting with darkness, repent! Yes, repent! Repent and return to where it all began – the waters of your baptism.  Yes, return to where you belong.

Beat your chest with your fist, confess your sins boldly, and hear the forgiveness of sins – Christ forgives you!  You belong to Jesus, not indifference.  You are baptized into Jesus, not evil!  Jesus is stronger than the devil; He is brighter than darkness.  Jesus took the devil’s armor of sin and death and destroyed them at the cross – for you! 

You are a Christian.  You belong to Jesus.  You are a member of His church.

 In the name of Jesus. Amen.  

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