It brought fire to my eyes.
A 13-year-old black teenager I represented told me a guard at his juvenile detention center had called him the N-word. This was before there was an official ban, but the guard knew that word was wrong. He used his power over the boy to humiliate him.
Evil seems to be at its best when one person has power over another. The world just saw Derek Chauvin, a police officer, pressing his knee on the neck of George Floyd as the man pleaded with him for breath.
Did Chauvin intend for Floyd to die? Did Chauvin look forward to his wife leaving him, and his family losing everything in a civil lawsuit? Did Chauvin anticipate a murder conviction, to being on suicide watch days later?
Chauvin simply appears to enjoy the moment, his humiliating power over Floyd. Evil.
And evil cost him everything.
It happens all day in every possible way—the person who set fire to the basement of St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., had the power to do so. The man mugging an old lady on a street corner used his power to harm her. Those who targeted General Flynn took their positions to do wrong. As I said, it happens all day long in every possible way.
In fact, evil seems to be at its best when one person has power over another.
George Floyd's death set off riots nationwide. The evil of that moment also put fear into countless black Americans. “Who is next?” they ask.
It was the wrongful acts of a group of religious men that succeeded in the Crucifixion. And the evil of that moment put fear into the hearts of His disciples. Who is next?
But Sunday came and the Resurrection changed everything. Not just for the first century disciples, but for you and me. Christ is our Lord.
Jesus spoke these famous words, “You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other … If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles … love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …” Matthew 5:38-46
It’s not fair.
But Jesus says take what’s unjust to injustice. Every Christian knows the words He spoke as He was murdered.
“Father, forgive them.” Luke 23:34
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once said her dad wouldn’t march with the Rev. Martin Luther King. The senior Rice said if he was hit, he’d fight back. King said, “No.” King's own people made fun of him for it. Malcom X called King’s peaceful march on the nation’s capital, a “Farce on Washington.”
But King remembered the words of Christ.
Jesus asks us to go against the human spirit—against what’s fair. If you meet evil with evil, the weed of evil will grow inside you.
This is how evil enters the hearts of good, Christian men and women. Perhaps you have countless acts you wish you could take back as I do. We can only learn and go forward with Jesus.
Scripture tells us, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10
God doesn’t stop there. He offers us more.
“Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The armor is here at Ephesians 6:11-18.
Evil was a problem in the early church, and the Apostle Paul addresses it simply: “Let all you do be done with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14 NKJV
Commit that verse to memory. Put it over your kitchen sink, on the dashboard of your car, at your computer monitor, in your bathroom. “Let all you do be done with love.”
Today, George Floyd would be alive, and Derek Chauvin would be free had Chauvin let that verse rule in his heart.
Christians are 2.3 billion strong—nearly one of every three people in the world belongs to Jesus. We are huge, we stand with Christ, and we can change the world.
Let all you do be done with love.
Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved. The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist, attorney, and the author of “Reaching to God.” You may contact her at Letters@RAMathews.com or follow her on Twitter @RA_Mathews.