Scripture: James 1:17-27
Why do we do what we do? Why do good people do rotten things? Why do some people that are basically rotten en up doing something good?
One of the greatest images I have read comes from CS Lewis his book The Last Battle, it speaks of a very devoted and honarable man from a land that worships Tash instead of the Great Lion. Those that entered the barn where it was believed to be the dwelling place of Aslan three things happened. For those that believed in Tash were met by the demon and either scared witless or eaten. If they rejected the demon and Aslan found themselves sitting in a dark barn with only dirty water and donkey feed to eat. Yet those that devoted their lives to Aslan found themselves in the most remarkable place, they were in Narnia but in a better Narnia. What is intresting in this story is that there was this one man who devoted his entire life to Tash yet there he was walking in Narnia. They were all confused because to everyone involved it should not have happened.
The answer Lewis gave was that this man who thought he was devoted to Tash was actually worshiping Aslan because he was doing good, one cannot do good without having a spark of Aslan in their life. On the flip side those that do evil in the name of Aslan were actually worshiping Tash, the evil vulture demon.
Lewis wrote in such a creative way, a way that speaks deeply to children and adults alike, a truth that theologians still struggle with today. Who is good and who is evil? And how do we know what and why we are doing things?
In the passage above James, who most believe was the brother of Jesus, says to the readers, “every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming from the Father of lights, with whom there is no varitaton or shadow do to change.” Basically James and Lewis are saying the same thing if you do good thing you are doing them because the spark of God with in you is speaking through your actions. Now that may make some of you very upset because some very bad groups have done some good things. I am saying that even those people are acting in accordance to some direction from God.
Now not everyone knows this. The will take credit for the good deed and receive the honor to themselves. Sometimes they do the good deed to get a tax break, or a more positive public image. They believe that they are doing good appart from any divine being, some even refuse to believe in the existance of a divine being. But good is done: poor children get libraries, schools receive computers, medical care is given to the sick.
Then there are those that do terrible things in the name of their God. Many of us in American hear stories of religous groups that are sending people to their death bombing trains and busses and are shocked to hear that there are willing people lining up for the their chance. Why do they line up, because they are told that they are doing something good. After the terroist attack on New York and Washington DC many young people joined the military freely because they thought they were doing good. And in their minds they are doing good, but the result of their devotion is evil.
One cannot say that the killing of humanity is good, we can justify it in many ways, but in every case to kill is wrong, it is evil, it removes from life a son, daughter, mother, brother, father and sister. In that removal there is the loss of a parent or child, the loss of income, and hatred. There is much evil even in the most justifiable war. Those that are involved have emotional, physical, and spiritual issues that they may never be able to over come.
James tells us to be slow to anger, because anger does not produce rightousness. Those devoted to anger are not honored by God. Hate is not a rightious activity. Just as the doing of good is not ever demonic.
This is a very difficult thing. To know the truth you have to wade through layers of lies. Often the worst offenders are also the most generous, and some of the groups that talk the loudest about generosity are the least likely to give.
How do we not get caught in this web? We need to know who we are, who we serve, and why we do it. If all good gifts, come from God, ad everything else is from other places, I want the good stuff. I also want to be a conduit of good. To do this one must be able to discern evil in all areas, especially in oneself. As you pray today, I pray that the shadows of evil will come over you and that you will be able to be conduits of good.