Monthly Archives: March 2015

Choosing Death Doesn’t Make Us Powerful

It comes home to me again and again, that the essence of Evil, is that Evil loves death.
According to the Bible’s grand narrative, death wasn’t part of the creative purpose. That makes death an intrusion into what we were made for. No matter how old or sick someone is when they die, even if we are relieved that their suffering is over, doesn’t Death still feel like something major has gone wrong?
I have no trouble believing it wasn’t supposed to be this way.
So I find human hubris, when it comes to causing death, to be so astonishingly obvious in its pretensions. We have not yet found a way to “make life” except in the time-honored ways of reproduction, but we think ourselves powerful when we take life. How pitiful our efforts, then, up against the Creator of Life?
Today, pondering the latest horrible story, of a Germanwings co-pilot who locked the captain out of the cockpit and steered a plane full of people into a mountain for whatever his own personal reasons were, I wonder at the idea that people don’t believe in a Devil. I don’t mean to say that this man was a devil, but rather that we are all susceptible suggestion from a personalized Evil who loves to destroy. And while few of us will ever destroy a planeload of people, all of us are “temptable” into believing that power over others is what will make everything work out…that control in our hands, is always the answer.
Instead, and I am certainly in need of learning this early and often, it is in trusting God’s ways that we learn to let go of control and power. Every temptation story in the Bible is a story of being persuaded that God is not on our side, or at least not able to keep his promises, and so we’ll have to take things into our own hands. And in every one, humans grab hold of controls that were not theirs, and destroy.
Yes, there are some things are *are* ours to control (most notably, ourselves!), but the ability for that, and the assignment for that, come to us through a partnership with the Holy Spirit. As we seek to see things through Christ’s eyes, as we focus ourselves on him and his kingdom, we are being changed – and self-control is one of the “fruits of the Spirit.” There is something qualitatively different about that Spirit being at work in someone, and the kind of power and control that we grasp for in fear or arrogance.
The more “white-knuckled” our approach to life and other people is in our need to make things come out the way we’ve decided, the more open we are to the temptation that might makes right, and then to love not just power, but death.
When we take the lives of others, we are always losing – even in the scenario of taking out a Hitler. Sometimes in this life, none of our choices are good ones. But in Jesus’ example we see it so clearly: death as the ultimate consequence when meted out by us, is not godly. Jesus could have called for death against his enemies, but he is the one who told us to love.
And so love we must, even to the point of asking God to forgive this co-pilot. Even to the point of becoming suspicious of our own drives to power and to control, lest we begin working on the side of Evil.
May we always pursue life, and the life of the world to come, in how we navigate our days.