Connections 01.31.2021: Not Taking Evil for Granted

Mark 1:21-34

Jesus’ miracles had a purpose: they announced that God’s reign in the world had arrived in Jesus. So when Jesus cast evil spirits out of people, it was an announcement that God’s power to defeat evil was with Jesus. Evil has been on the run ever since Jesus entered human history.

But often, it sure can look like evil has the upper hand, can’t it? We might wonder why that is.

We are all aware that Jesus isn’t physically present with us. We are also aware that the church is the body of Christ. That means that the church is the presence of Christ in the world, which in turn means that we are to do Christ’s work in the world.

What Teresa of Avila said in the sixteenth century is still true: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

But how well are we fighting against the evil in the world? Might it be the case that we of the church aren’t standing against evil as we should? Might we not be appropriately using our spiritual authority to subjugate the evil forces at work around us?

Might it be that evil has become too familiar and accepted a part of the way things are for us even to notice its presence? Might it be that we’ve let demons run amok in the system for so long that we don’t even realize they’re involved?

I hope we’ll ask ourselves some hard questions. What evil is present in our society’s systems that we have come to take for granted rather than deal with it as the evil it is? What forces operate in those systems that benefit from a perpetually unfair status quo and that profit from institutionalized oppression?

I also hope we’ll ask what steps we can and should take to confront them in the name of Christ.

There are still evil forces for the body of Christ to cast out.

Discussion

  • What kind of authority did Jesus display?
  • What kind of authority does the church have? Do we use it appropriately?
  • What kinds of systemic evil does the church need to work against? How can we promote justice and righteousness in society’s institutions?
  • How can individual Christians live in ways that participate in the struggle against systemic evil?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara, grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

*****

For further resources, subscribe to the Connections Teaching Guide and Commentary. Additionally, the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series is a scholarly but accessible means for enhancing your study of each lesson.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

*