Friday, August 02, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 208: Ecclesiastes 4-6; Psalm 20; Colossians 1

Evil Under the Sun
Yes, it is the title of a murder mystery by the famed writer, Agatha Christie. Drawn from this passage, the image sets up a story typical of her detective's labors. Someone is murdered, and everyone in attendance is a possible suspect. Anyone could be the killer...and in the course of the investigation we will be exposed to the best and worst humanity has to offer. Some will be saints, most will be sinners. All have something to hide. None are perfect. Even as the Teacher bears witness to human folly in Ecclesiastes, Christie's characters, Hercule Poirot as her detective of choice and all the rest, expose to us just how sadly disappointing we can be when we make the mistake of thinking too highly of ourselves while at the same time asking to hide our shadow selves from the scrutiny of both the wise, and the Divine.

It is not so easy to be forthright and upstanding as we would like as we make our collective way through life. Paul seemed to have it figured out in his letter to the Collosians. He is, again, suffering for Christ while at the same time giving thanks for the faith and rectitude of the community to which he is writing. Still, beneath the veneer of laudatory praise there lurks a directive warning: you are doing well...so don't screw it up!

The psalmist also speaks to the challenge of leading an upright life. The best and most reliable resource is an absolute faith and trust in God, but the threats posed by all those other folks does tend to threaten the stability of his apple cart of faith. It is not easy to be righteous, and harder still to live a life out there in the world that secures the "good" that the wise teacher points us toward in out struggles and studies.

Yes, there is a LOT of evil under the sun. The wise know we cannot wipe it out. They also know that if it is not confronted and at the least overcome for a time, then we have little else with which to seek justification for our existence. Our hope is to find the strength and resolve to continue the struggle to overcome evil. Our faith is the reminder that Christ underpins and uplifts us in that striving. Through his witness, we we and can draw strength from one who has already overcome the worst evils that can happen under the sun; and with that victory, the Son reminds us that though evil is ever-present, it need not ever completely define us.

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