In 1944 my father returned home from the War in the Pacific. My dad was smart, energetic, intelligent and well read. In fact I cannot remember a month, while growing up at home, where National Geographic Magazine did not show up in our mailbox. I remember well listening to my parents talking about the progress of science and how we were living in amazing times. I specifically remember hearing a phrase like this often, “If only people were better educated they wouldn’t commit crime and hurt others.” This was the belief not only my father but most of the World War II generation. They had conquered the world and science had made America the victors. Their motto: Science And Education Could Solve Anything!
My dad was confident that the human condition was solvable by correct information. Even though my dad passed away ten years ago he would be in shock today at the recent revelations of Dr. Larry Nassar, sports physician of US gymnastics, who sexually molested more than 156 young women athletes. Today Dr. Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison. What went wrong?
The problem for Dr. Nassar and for all the rest of us is not our level of education but the evil that lurks in all of our hearts. Today you still hear the refrain that if people just had enough education they would emerge from poverty, racism, bigotry and all the other ills of our society. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus accurately identified our problem and its solution 2000 year ago. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 15:19-20 Jesus says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” THE PROBLEM IS IN US! We are our own worst enemies and evil can come out of us at any time. While education is often a good thing the one thing it cannot do is cure the evil of the human heart.
I could list story after story in the news that speaks to this evil. We just learned of two parents who were starving and chaining their thirteen children to their beds at home. We can point to the “tolerant” political left who, in their minds are moral and just, in throwing every piece of hatred, slander, belittlement possible at conservatives. The problem is more than rampant.
However the greatest danger we face is when we assume those people who do such things are aberrations, sick, or mentally ill. Jesus says a loud, “NO!” The problem of evil is in all of us and all of us are more than capable of doing the same things. It is the fool who believes that he or she has overcome the evil in their heart and can control it. I have come to realize just how evil I can be in my thinking and actions under the right conditions. Thankfully Jesus has also brought the answer.
In Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” The power to defeat evil, to love others, to overcome temptation is not found in more education or human self-will. The power to defeat evil is to fully surrender to Jesus Christ and seek to follow and become like him each and every day.
It does not matter how many laws congress passes or how loud the voices of progressive politics, the answer is in surrendering to Jesus Christ. He alone has the power to heal the human heart, to turn the hater in the one who loves, the thief into a servant, a murderer into a life giver and a wicked tongue into a voice of blessing.