Some of my thoughts and musings on faith, life and ministry. All that is posted here are of my own opinions and do not necessarily represent any organisation, church or ministry that I am a part of/affiliated with. 

How Can We Explain Evil? - A Reflection on the Paris Attacks

Picture courtesy of my friend, Celine Wong 

Picture courtesy of my friend, Celine Wong 

Yesterday marked one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in Europe since the Madrid train bombings in 2004. The attacks left at least 129 people dead, 352 people injured (most critically). A state of emergency was declared in Paris, soldiers deployed to patrol the streets and the whole nation went into lockdown mode. This would definitely be far from ideal conditions for any city - for both tourists and locals. 

The question that comes to mind is - how can people be so evil? What drives people to commit such acts? What gives them the inner motivation to be able to perform such heinous deeds on another human being? How can we eradicate evil and be safe from its effects? 

I would suggest that in order to overcome evil, we must first know the source of it. Just like a sickness or disease, you cannot cure it until you know what caused it. We see the symptoms (evil acts) of the condition (evil), but what is the cause? 

While completely understanding these issues will continue to elude us this side of heaven, nonetheless I think the Christian worldview has an explanation to offer. To me, sin is the source of all evil. 

If you are familiar with the Christian story, you would know that sin first came into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God (Genesis 3). This is significant not in a sense that somebody failed to obey some simple rules, but that humanity chose to go on their own way instead of trusting God's way. That is sin - that we choose to go on our own way, we think we know better, we think we are wiser, we think we have it all together. 

Do we really though? The human race is as advanced as we will ever be, just look at today's technology. But look closer at the world and you will see it is far from perfect- people are plagued by corruption, poverty, wars, hatred, anger, greed, dishonesty, APATHY. 

Post Adam and Eve's fall and subsequent exile from the garden, we read in Genesis 4 the CONSEQUENCE of sin. Genesis 4 tells the story of Cain and Abel; descendants of Adam and Eve, and also the first ever murder story recorded in the bible. Cain murders his younger brother Abel because God accepted Abel's gift and not Cain's. 

Questions to ask: why was that a good reason to get angry? Who made it a competition? How is it acceptable to murder your own kin just because you were mad? The answer is found in verse 6, when God says to Cain:

6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT, emphasis added)

Here we have the problem and the solution: Sin is wanting to take over, but do not let it! Simple to grasp, yet not easy to do. We know the reality of this fact: we want to stop being bad but we somehow just cannot (we meaning us as individuals and as the entire human race). 

What is the answer to evil and sin then? It is found in none other than the Gospel. No matter how much we try to curb, control or rehabilitate the human condition, evil somehow still manages to wiggle its way out. The only way we can be fully restored and redeemed is through Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:57 (NLT)

57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is only through Jesus that we can begin to make some sense of it all. Jesus is the only cure to the human condition, and the solution to the problem of evil. He who deserved no evil, but took on its full affects on the cross, and rose again to show us that evil has not and will never triumph. 

Pray for the people of Paris, for the families who lost people to this tragedy, for the governments handling this crisis and most of all for the people behind these attacks. Their hearts are enveloped in darkness which only the light of Jesus can illuminate.