"The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones." —Shakespeare
My last post looked at evil and grace from the angle that Jesus gives a way back for those who have made bad choices - he has paid the price to redeem the souls they have sold, if you like. The other side of the coin is dealing with the mess and pain which evil leaves behind.
Shakespeare's quote above is mostly intended to be about reputation, I suspect - slightly odd-sounding today given our culture's supposed reluctance to 'speak ill of the dead.' Nevertheless it is all too true in the sense that the consequences of evil for those impacted will often last far longer than the deeds themselves.
Ruanda, Bosnia, and South Africa all still bear the scars of evil, open wounds often, as do the victims of Jimmy Saville, and of the gangs in Rochester and elsewhere, and of the abusers in children's homes and orphanages, and of all the abusive family members and 'friends' who make children's lives hell. The evil lives on in damaged bodies, shattered trust and ruined lives.
Good lives on too, but it always seems so much more fragile.
As is often said: it is quicker and easier to destroy than it is to build up.
In the long term the Bible is clear that this will be reversed: those affected by evil will be healed, cleansed and comforted by God Himself. It also says that all good that is done for Jesus will have lasting impact, however small and fragile that good may seem.
I heard a loud voice shout from the throne:In the meantime there is work to do for God's people. We are called to be the hands and hearts and feet and voices of Jesus in the world. Our task is to do what we can to show God's Kingdom here on earth 'as it is in heaven'. Jesus said that the key marks of his ministry were:
God’s home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make his home among his people. He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever.
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have skin disease are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.Jesus came to reverse the effects of evil, to transform sickness to health, and to bring fullness of life to all - that is now the task of his followers, in all our weakness and vulnerability. Like Jesus:
“The Lord’s Spirit has come to us,Where there is evil, pain and injustice, there you will also find followers of Jesus working, in their small way, to bring comfort and healing. Because Jesus comes to those in need; and often that's through his faithful people.
because he has chosen us
to tell the good news to the poor.
The Lord has sent us to announce freedom
to give sight to the blind,
to free everyone who suffers,
and to say, ‘This is the year the Lord has chosen.’”