You who are evil

You who are evil

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7: 11

On a visit to a church to speak about the work of this ministry amongst the Pashtun, my dear friend was asked – if the Pashtun people are so dangerous and the lives of Christians are at risk why do we keep trying to share the gospel with them?

To many this seem like a particularly valid question. After all, if we are raising concerns with others in supporting our brothers and sisters at risk, why are they so determined to put themselves further at risk by speaking to people who might kill them? Well there are many ways to look at this, and I hope the following can go some way to answering the question.

Now I would not want to judge the motivation of the person who asked this question, but I would suggest that if you asked most people today how they would describe the murder of people it would be as something evil. People who murder other people are evil. If you consider how most people, who are not Muslim, view Islam, they may see the extremes of terrorism and brutality, and oppression which we are exposed to through the media in many parts of the world. Most people would say that these kinds of acts are evil. If you asked them to define people they consider as evil they would probably have a long list of dictators, murderers, abusers and similar. They would also have very strong opinions on how you deal with these evil people, and I am pretty sure they would wish to see them either imprisoned for life or perhaps even killed for their crimes.

But would they consider themselves as evil?

Well probably not. Most people whilst recognising they are not perfect would find some way to justify their goodness, and even if they had done wrong it would not be bad enough to make them evil. And there lies the issue which has broken humanity – proud, self-righteous defiance.

You see we struggle to use the term evil these days, even in church pulpits we don’t go down that route. We prefer to find other adjectives for people who are lost, broken, misguided, hurting, but rarely sinners and certainly not evil. Yet, that is what we are, and if you don’t believe me, believe the words of Jesus Christ himself. You see we are not compared with subjective human standards of good and evil but with God’s perfect goodness and holiness. No one is good expect God alone – Jesus also said that. We are also told elsewhere in the bible that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and that no one is righteous (right with God).

The danger of not understanding this, and particularly in our church leaders who should know better, is that we continue this self-righteous and subjective understanding even into a genuine relationship with Jesus. We might say that we are sinners and that we have been saved, but when we avoid sharing the gospel with certain people it suggests a heart which believes we were never as bad as some people and they don’t deserve the same grace and forgiveness we have received. I think that is the kind of thinking that might lead someone to ask why we bother witnessing the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who might kill us. We have no grasp of the magnitude of our evil before an Almighty and Holy God. We perhaps have no real grasp that the difference between ourselves and someone we consider evil, when compared with the infinite Holiness of God, is negligible.

So, why do we share the gospel with those who would kill us?

Well first because Jesus Christ, God incarnate, came into this evil and broken world and gave his life so that evil and broken people could be saved from sin and the judgement of hell, and brought into a loving relationship with God. As sinners saved by grace we know the power of Jesus Christ in transforming our lives. We who are evil have been made righteous by the work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Because Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations, not just the nice ones we agree with or understand. Because Jesus said he who gives his life for him (and that includes physical) will save it, he who tries to save himself will lose his life. Because we are to love our enemies. Because we are to repay evil with good. Because the Pashtun live in darkness and need the light of Jesus Christ. Because the gospel is changing lives. Because evil men and women are turning to Christ. Because persecutors of the gospel are now proclaimers of the gospel. Because…  I could go on, but I hope the point has been made.

Let me finish by qualifying something. Our witness amongst the Pashtun comes with great risk. But the dangerous extremists who seek to kill and destroy are not reflective of the Pashtun people or culture as a whole. They are a sad reflection of extreme ideology in Islamic doctrine. The Pashtun are passionate for their culture and Islamic faith and history. And they like all mankind are separated from God without Jesus Christ. Whatever evil needs conquered in the hearts of the Pashtun, only the Holy Spirit through the gospel of Jesus Christ will be victorious. For that and, the beauty of knowing the one true God, and knowing men and women will be saved from eternal punishment in hell, we carry this message to the Pashtun, whatever the cost.

I hope that answers the question.