I ran across this quotation from Nicholas Wolterstorff while reading Philip Yancey’s book Vanishing Grace:
When we have overcome absence with phone calls, winglessness with airplanes, summer heat with air-conditioning – when we have overcome all these and much more besides, then there will abide two things with which we must cope: the evil in our hearts and death.
I run into very few people who speak and act as if this life is all you get and there is nothing beyond death. It is often said of someone who is deceased, “he (she) is in a better place.” This belief persists in spite of efforts of those who subscribe to a completely materialistic world view.
The evil in our hearts is an even more difficult problem. When I read of war crimes, it is too easy to think that I would have responded differently. Would I do better? Perhaps not.
Why is it that so many New Year’s resolutions fail? Why is it that none of us live up to our own standard of behavior? Why is it that I can take the opportunity to change lanes into the smallest of breaks and then get mad at the guy who does the same in front of me? The potential for evil lies in my heart and self discipline can only force it below the surface.
Philosophers can tell us that we are simply products of our DNA and our responses are preprogrammed, but we know better. There is a part of us that knows that this is a cop out. The evidence points that way because nearly all of us have the desire to be better than we are.
It is to these issues that Christianity is uniquely qualified to speak. Christianity does not offer behavior modification (if we properly understand the Gospel). We do not explain away the evil. We worship the one who gave his life to conquer the evil inside us.
Christianity does not offer platitudes about life beyond the grave; we worship the one who demonstrated power over death by raising himself from the death. We do not need to fear the evil inside us, we need to surrender to the one who is uniquely qualified to remove that evil and replace it with his Love.
Today we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death and evil. It is this event that gives us hope that the power of death and evil can be broken in our own lives.