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A Sobering Takeaway From the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Crash

Hidden Nuggets Series #49 – “See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15

rocket launcherTragedy always catches our attention.

So my thoughts have been perked this past week as the news outlets have reported the gruesome scene at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. 298 people were gone in an instant, their bodies littered with the airplane debris over the Ukrainian countryside. Their families will be impacted forever, perhaps never finding resolution.

Like you, I’ve flown countless times. The tranquility of cruising at 30,000 ft. sets the mind at ease. We can find relaxing peace there, sipping our drinks and gazing out the window. The sun shines brightly on the clouds below, magnifying the beauty of God’s creation.

To be in that moment and have it be your last is more than I can bear to dwell on. I can’t imagine what those last seconds were like as the surface-to-air missile struck the plane.

Outside of the TV series 24, who does this? It’s shocking. It’s inhuman.

Except that it’s not inhuman because it was accomplished by at least one human. Which brings me back to a sobering conclusion that I’ve known all my life – the world can be a very evil place.

Evil exists in our world

This cannot be denied – evil exists in our world. Right along side with the good, evil manifests itself in countless ways each day. It’s inescapable. It would be foolish to consider that we’d never experienced it in some form or fashion during our lifetime.

The evil presence in our world isn’t a new phenomenon. Evil has existed since those fateful moments in the Garden of Eden when mankind pursued its own will instead of God’s. It’s woven itself throughout history, manifesting itself at times in gruesome ways that leave us with more questions than answers and continually worried about what might be around the next corner.

That’s no way to live though, being so locked down by the fear of evil that we let it alter our daily routines. I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I’ll take my cue from the Apostle Paul who lived through one of the most evil eras (at least for followers of Jesus Christ) the world has ever known. If the believers of his day could face being thrown to the lions in the Roman Coliseum – just for sport – then I can face anything the world throws at me today.

How to live in the face of evil

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:15, “See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

From this verse, I find three basic instructions for living day by day in a world system capable of great evils.

I am to walk circumspectly. Translation…be watchful, guarded and attentive. Our personal defenses need to be on alert to call out evil when we see it. It’s not going away so it’s imperative we maintain the vigilance to watch for it.

I am to walk wisely. Evil sucks in the foolish. I don’t want to create a vulnerability to evil because my actions are not marked by prudence and common sense.

I am to walk purposefully. Have some determination. Be resolute. Create a single-minded path to drive each day’s existence to create meaning and value in people’s lives. For as I’ve said before our days are limited and can be changed or end in an instant.

Continue giving to the fight

In 1983, a Korean commercial airliner was shot down by the Russians over the Kamchatka Peninsula. Then U.S. President Ronald Reagan offered this outline for what must be done. His remarks targeted the American people to action but apply to anyone seeking to stand against evil in this world. He said:

“We know it will be hard to make a nation [Russia] that rules its own people through force to cease using force against the rest of the world. But we must try. This is not a role we sought. We preach no Manifest Destiny, but like Americans who began this country and brought forth this last best hope of mankind, history has asked much of the Americans of our own time. Much we have already given. Much more we must be prepared to give.”

Then, like now, we cannot turn a blind eye. There can be no pretending evil is irrelevant. It’s not the business of someone else to deal with.

It affects us all. We must be ready to give more attention to it. We must continue to fight.

Please take a moment to remember all the families affected by this tragedy. Pray that God’s grace and comfort be with them at this most difficult time.

How do you stay vigilant in a world filled with evil?

Image by Ajvol at Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Yes – we can’t let fear rule our actions. We’re called to bring attention to it and to stand up against evil. It’s scary, but we can’t let that paralyze us.

  2. Brian, our pastor preached on Jonah this week and talked a lot about the evil in the world, and our instinct sometimes to not intervene (maybe, like Jonah did, in hopes that judgment will actually come). There’s a lot of bad stuff going on right now (even in the actual area around Ninevah…go figure).

    • “…our instinct sometimes to not intervene…” I can see this, definitely. Many reasons why we don’t intervene…apathy, fear of reprisal, worry over getting swept up in evil practices ourselves, it’s the problem of someone else…probably more I can’t think of right now. Evil is not going away…we cannot leave it unchecked.

  3. It’s all too easy to forget that these kinds of tragedies are going on around the world while we sit comfortably in our castles here in a first world nation. Our best hope is that someone with authority feels inspired and empowered to stop the senselessness.

    • Agreed MMD…we don’t have a clear perspective on the rest of the world. But it’s also present here too in our first world nation. Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, everyday as gangs shoot each other down in the streets…It’s heartbreaking and we can’t ignore it.

  4. We have to stay in the word and attempt to have a like-minded support system in order to avoid being drawn in by evil. It helps me to remember that I don’t stumble upon evil and temptations – Peter says Satan is like a lion seeking to devour us. He’s on the hunt.

    • I agree on your point about the forces of evil Kirsten…the enemy is definitely out to destroy those seek to live a godly lifestyle. Our foolishness though sometimes makes it easier for him. Through unwise choices we open ourselves up to evil and situations that we never should have been in.

  5. Such senseless tragedy and loss. There IS evil in this world, and the “Logical Problem of Evil” is a question that has been debated for centuries. Events like this nudge us to consider James’ words that our life is ‘just a vapor’. A reminder to question: What is it that we’ve accomplished as far as Eternity is concerned?

    • Those are good words from James Chaz. Knowing my number could be called at any time helps me to make moments count in the present.

  6. This is sadly too true, Brian. I can’t begin to imagine what those families are going through. It’s truly just awful that there is such evil in this world, but as you said, it’s going to be here no matter what. I try not to live in fear of the actions others might take, but I do make sure to listen to my gut if something feels “off,” and avoid generally bad areas.

    • Along with our basic wisdom, I believe God has put in us that “gut feeling” or “instinct” you talk about to as a defense mechanism…sort of like radar that blips when we sense something is not right. It must be something we pay attention to and rely on to guide our actions.

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