Evil is bombarding us and in the news on a daily basis. There is a rising fear in the world that is compelling. The media is amplifying this fear, as are the politicians, who use these events for personal gain. How can Christians combat this fear? How do we stand apart from the world and respond with God’s assurances? How does psychoanalytic understanding help us to rise above fear and fulfill the challenge to be set apart, and love our enemies?
We know we are to claim the peace of God, letting our hearts not to be troubled. We are assured that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. We don’t need to be anxious, as God will not bring us trials that are too strong for us to confront.
When we see evil acts, we assign evil to the person who performed the evil. This seems logical. We judge, yet we judge with a fallen nature and limited wisdom. We judge despite the result of the fall, knowing good and evil, but not being God.
This is a natural reaction. The reason we react so easily this way is due to a psychological process called “splitting.” This is a primitive immature mental process, that all of us appropriately used as young children. It describes our reaction of seeing things as either good or bad. It is the foundation for the development of complex ways of thinking. With wisdom, we progress from seeing only “black and white” to seeing “shades of greys.” As adults, we mature and grow in understanding. Judgement of good and bad becomes more complicated. We see that life is not simple, and we are not perfect. With maturity, we take responsibility for our failings. We look beyond ourselves for justice and perfection. This comes with Christian wisdom, as we understand and surrender to the Spirit of God.
But it is human nature to judge others. This is destructive. If we see others as evil, we use their fallenness to build up our pride, denying our own brokenness. We deny them grace, which is not loving. This human reaction sets up a division of condemnation between “us” and “them.” We set ourselves apart as self-righteous and in the process, we lose communion with the Spirit.
As Christians, we are called not to judge. We are called to love others, including our enemies. Evil comes from powers and principalities, including the power of the evil one who encourages splitting. Evil takes glee in seeing our immaturity, encouraging us to judge others. This undoes our witness as purveyors of God’s love. We are then not set apart from the world. We continue in pride and isolation, which keeps us vulnerable to fear and anxiety. The powers and principalities including the media and some politicians, benefit from our fears.
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you will become children of your Father in heaven, because he makes his sun rise on both evil and good people, and he lets rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you greet only your relatives, that’s no great thing you’re doing, is it? Even the unbelievers do the same, don’t they? So be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:44-48, (ISV)
We are called to love our enemies. Splitting is an immature response, and the evil one loves immaturity. Evil drives our pride, which disconnects our communion with others and the Holy Spirit. It leaves us alone and vulnerable to fear, back to the anxiety of the world.
So when we see evil, pray. Pray not to give in to splitting, not to judge others, and pray for help to see the log in our own eye. Return to communion, avoid self-righteousness, connect to the One who promises comfort and justice. Pray for protection from evil, and pray for wisdom to love our enemies as fellow sinners.