Ecclesiastes 9:3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterwards they join the dead.
I was reading “Evil under the Sun” this morning. It’s an Agatha Christie novel. The title comes from the Bible; Ecclesiastes 9:3.
I got my two year old son out of bed. We were reading books together cuddled up. But he wouldn’t stop hitting me in the face. Not playful pats you understand, but full blooded blows. As hard as he could. I told him he was hurting daddy. He smiled and did it again. He understood.
I came down to breakfast and turned on the radio. There were 18 dead when we went to bed. The news says at least 120 this morning. If you add up the separate death tolls from the different attacks you see that that’s a conservative estimate. Everything else in the news just seemed a bit petty. Irrelevant. Even the sports presenter seemed embarrassed. He sounded completely unexcited by last night’s football. And he was right.
They’ve already started to try and explain why 8 human beings strapped bombs to themselves, took automatic weapons and set out into the Paris night to kill as many unarmed, unknown people as possible. People just enjoying a normal Friday night; a football game, a concert, a meal out with friends. The Bible has a very simple explanation. “The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live…”
It’s not a very popular explanation. It’s easier to talk of extremism and brain washing and radicalisation. But in the end we are all capable of evil. Sometimes we surprise ourselves by how unkind, how violent, how angry, how selfish we can be. And that evil is enhanced when it is legitimised be a world view that says violence is an acceptable way of propagating your beliefs. Just read the life of Mohammed and the life of Jesus and spot the difference.
I’m not saying I’m any better. There have been instances in my life when I have wanted to bring pain to others. I remember during a rugby match stamping my metal studded boot down on the head of a player while he lay pinned on the ground. The comment of my team mate in the changing room afterwards was telling: “That wasn’t very Christian of you Daf.”
No, my heart is as capable of evil as the next person. But my heart is being changed. Not by some technique or government legislation. Not by some philosophy or calming mantra that I chant when I feel the inner rage. My heart is being changed by the God who came to earth in the person of his son Jesus, to suffer the most excruciating evil in my place. To bear the punishment my evil heart deserves. So that now…”he has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”(Romans 5:8)
In the end only changing the hearts of men will end evil under sun. And only Jesus does that.