Driving out evil is the Great Commission of all Christians

By Leonard Lauriault
Religion columnist

Depending on when you get your newspaper, today or tomorrow, March 17th, is St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t be confused by my French Canadian last name. My west-central Appalachian accent is indicative of my Scotch-Irish American heritage. The tradition of St. Patrick’s Day goes back to the 400’s AD when Patrick went to evangelize Ireland, after having escaped slavery there at age 16. He’s also purported to have driven the snakes off the island, but that bit of folklore likely refers to running off all the pagans he couldn’t convert.

Driving out evil is the responsibility of every Christian; however, our success is likely dependent on our technique. There’re three recurring examples in the New Testament of how evil was dealt with, which is determined by the place of the evil.

In Matthew 23, Jesus pretty well peeled the hide off the Jewish religious leaders because of their hypocrisy coupled with their oppressive rules through which they usurped God’s authority (Matthew 15:1-14). Paul also said he opposed Peter to his face before the congregation at Antioch because he acted hypocritically (Galatians 2:11-21). It seems to me he was fairly gentle to Peter compared to his reprimand targeting members of the Galatian churches in regard to the same matter (Galatians 3:1-5). Having evil within the Christian community is not something to be messed around with, especially among the leadership, although, the command to avoid evil applies to all Christians (Romans 12:9; 1 Timothy 5:19-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-15).

The passage just cited from 1 Corinthians said we’d have to leave the world to avoid associating with non-Christians. If we left the world, first of all, how would we fulfill the Great Commission that tells us to go into all the world to lead people to Christ (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-16)? Secondly, where would we go?

The Christian mechanism for driving evil out of the world IS the Great Commission. That is, we’re basically to let our light shine and tell people why we’re the way we are and let God take care of the rest (Matthew 5:14-16; 1 Peter 2:9 to 3:16; John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 3:6-7; Isaiah 55:10-11). We’re to make the gospel attractive (without compromising it) being gentle with those who show interest, whoever they are, as well as with those who oppose us, although we’re not expected to be doormats (Titus 2:1-14; Matthew 11:19; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; Acts 18:5-7; Matthew 10:14, 23).

If we wear the Christian name, but don’t have the Christian accent in life according to New Testament teaching, people won’t really be able to recognize that our heritage is in Christ Jesus and we won’t be effective in driving evil out of society. However, if we shine our lights appropriately, actually letting Jesus shine through us, the evil in the world will be driven out because that’s what light does (John 3:20-21; 1 John 1:5-9; Romans 12:21). Walking in the light also will keep the evil driven out of our own lives, which is most critical.

Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at
lmlaur@plateautel.net

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