Overcome Evil With GoodAs we receive God’s healing in Christ and share in His nature, may we overcome evil with good as redemptive agents of restoration for God’s world and His people.
I have a confession to make. I have been a lifelong cat person but am presently a dog mom. Our family adopted a traumatized dog from our local shelter a year and a half ago. Poor Brindy is anxious and frightened of noises, wind, sudden movement, plastic, going outside and even leaving the family room. Her past abuse often shows itself; yet, Brindy has come a long way. Though once mistreated, she has now experienced goodness, care and love. She is a precious part of our family. She will lay in my lap and trustingly release her weight in perfect peace. She even expresses her sense of relief with audible exhalations. I’m mindful of the healing she has found in our home. While Brindy rests serenely in my lap, the Lord speaks to me about the healing power of goodness and our role as believers to be an infirmary for the wounded—to show His goodness and guide wounded hearts to Christ for healing.
In Romans 12:9-21, Paul shares with the believers in Rome 29 imperatives that mark true Christians. He begins in verse 9 with “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good” and climaxes to “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:21). The antithesis of evil is goodness. The counterpoint to evil is goodness. The character and nature of God is goodness. We can clearly see what goodness looks like in the life and person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Paul summarizes it aptly here in Romans 12. Show love, honor, righteousness, joy, patience, longsuffering, generosity, hospitality, humility, compassion, honesty, peace, charity and self-yielding to others, even in the face of persecution and injury. When you are wronged “retaliate” with goodness and care, trusting the Lord for justice.
We face a world of evil, abuse and suffering at the hands of one another. Jesus, our Lord, certainly did. He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Though He had it in His power, He did not retaliate or return abuse for injury. No, He overcame evil with good, and by His wounds we are healed (1 Peter 2:23-25). In unthinkable love, God has taken on our humanity—including all our horror, sorrow and pain—and invited us, in exchange, to share in His own nature. Mystery of mysteries. God offers us a partaking of divinity so profound that it amounts to union with God. The union of God in Christ deep within us becomes a fount of healing, transformation and goodness.
In Ezekiel’s vision of water flowing from the Temple, a great river of life grows from droplets to a stream to a river too vast to cross (Ez. 47). As the river of life flows, the effects of God’s presence on every living thing brings healing and renewal. Ezekiel sees the worship and lives of God’s people likewise overflowing with life and healing for all living things. God’s purpose is that every believer would embody that old chorus, “I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me!” It’s the missio Dei, “the mission of God” or the “sending of God” into the world to heal and restore and repair. “Jesus affirmed” that people would face hardship and persecution in this world, but counseled to take courage; for, He has conquered the world! (John 16:33). Flora Slosson Wuellner has articulated this so well in saying in Christ, the walls of hostility, pain and fragmentation “within us and among us are encountered, touched, healed.” The risen Christ stretched out his loving hands, “showing the wounds that were not wasted or swallowed up in glory, but that had become sources of redemptive love and goodness. If we take those hands stretched out to us, our own wounds of body and spirit become to us no longer signs of hopeless pain but also sources of new springing love!”
God living in and through His people empowers them not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. As heartfeltly expressed by the late General John Gowans, “There are people hurting in the world out there. They need you; they need me, they need Christ.” “[God’s] divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). As we receive God’s healing in Christ and share in His nature, may we overcome evil with good as redemptive agents of restoration for God’s world and His people.
Major Annalise Francis is admini-strator and corps officer for the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Ashland, OH.