Where Are All the Bad People?
Amidst all this chaos…
I have made a very interesting discovery.
I don’t meet any bad people anymore.
On a regular basis, I try to meet someone new, but in all my interactions, I haven’t met one that has told me that they are one of those “bad people” that all of our parents warned us about when we were children. Everyone I meet tells me that they are a good person.
“I am the most compassionate person I know!” said one individual.
But surely bad people must exist… If bad people don’t exist…why is there so much bad news? Why are there school shootings? Why is there so much hatred, murder, violence, unrest in our world?
There must be something wrong with the world. If it’s not us…then what/who exactly is it? How can we protect ourselves from it/them?
An Evil God?
“God.” One might say. In fact, a substantial reason why people often don’t believe in God is because it seems nonsensical that a loving God would allow so much evil and pain in our world.
…Or that’s what I hear at least.
But wait! If God is allowing evil in our world, we have to admit there is some evil somewhere…but where is it coming from? Why is it so hard to pinpoint its location?
Perhaps we should probe deeper. Is it God who is evil? Well first of all, our hypothetical person says that they don’t believe a god could exist because of the suffering we all face. If we want to blame God, then we have to grant that a god exists. Very well, then. Let’s entertain the idea for a moment, that an evil god exists who for some strange reason wants to do evil things in our world and this is where wars, fights, violence and such come from.
Even if that were the case, how could an evil god actually carry out such evil deeds? Would he carry them out by controlling evil people to do his bidding? Well then, once more we are stuck…because like I expressed before…I can’t find any of these evil people!
For the sake of argument, let’s say that there are people controlled by his bidding to do evil acts…do these people know they are being controlled or not? If they know they are being controlled, it seems odd that no one has said anything. We may have heard, “the devil made me do it”, but people don’t find the blame shifting to be acceptable. If they do not know they are being controlled against their will, how could we possibly tell who is an evil-god-robot-controlled person and who isn’t?
Evil People with Good Intentions?
OK, if you’re an atheist reading this right now, let’s play the role of an atheist and just say there is no evil god. What then of evil? Are we left with the bad people I’ve been looking for this whole time? Perhaps I’ve been lied to and I actually have met some bad people.
But surely we can’t say that there are some bad people that exist…that would make us judgmental! In fact, isn’t this what causes so much hatred between people groups? Some label other people as “evil” so that they can protect their land and their families, resulting in conflicts, wars, etc.
One step further, what would define someone as a bad person? What kind of evil would one have to commit to be considered a bad person? Murder? What if they are mentally ill? How would I be able to tell? Especially if, once again, all the people I meet tell me that they are good people. OH, THE CONFUSION!!
Last week I actually had a young man tell me that I can’t say that Hitler was an evil man, because I can’t judge another person. “He may have had good intentions” (WHAT?!?!?!?!)
Does he mean to say that that suffering, evil, and pain is actually the result of good people with good intentions??
Here’s what I’ve found:
People in our culture measure good and evil by making themselves the standard.
In this case, if one is a “good person” it is because that person feels that they are morally superior to some other people. However, if that is true, it would mean that morality (right & wrong) is completely subjective and based on personal preference. This is because what is “morally superior” would all depend on how each individual feels! So, if I feel that helping the homeless at a soup kitchen makes me a better person than the person who refuses to help the homeless, then I will label that person “bad” and myself “good. The problem with this thinking is that it results in an uncomfortable logical outworking that terrible evils really aren’t evils at all. They are just different moral standards that different persons have.
But if different standards of morality are not better or worse than others, only different…it would seem that:
- We should never complain about an unjust and cruel world.
- We should never punish other people for anything that they do “wrong” since nothing is ever really wrong.
C.S. Lewis, a professor at Oxford and one of the most influential writers of his time, once said,
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” -C.S. Lewis
It was this problem of evil that actually led C.S. Lewis to God. All of us instinctively know that something is really wrong with the world. This means that if something is wrong, then something has to be right. Where does this idea of moral perfection come from? If it came from humanity, then how could we ever figure which people group has it right? It seems that our knowledge of moral values would never be able to get beyond the subjective realm. Even if we try to ground objective morality in our genetic make-up, it seems hard to be able to tell what OTHERS OUGHT to do. We would only be able to self-govern, but not govern others.
I don’t know about you, but I believe that sex trafficking is objectively evil. It is really wrong for all peoples no matter who you are or what you believe. I believe shooting people on a college campus is really wrong.
And I don’t believe that just one or two people groups are bad, but that we are ALL BAD PEOPLE.
Sound offensive? It is! But that’s because our culture has bought into the lie that we are all good people deep down inside and that we have no sins to forgive. You might be thinking, “but that sounds so judgmental!” In response, I would say it’s actually not judgmental at all because it’s a problem we all equally face.
I’m not saying that there aren’t some that are worse than others, but what I am saying is that the problem stems from the same tree. Some branches may be bigger than others, but we all have a sin problem.
If we REALLY want to see the world transformed, what needs to be done is for individuals to stop shifting the blame on everyone else, and to seek healing for the rottenness that’s within each of our own hearts!
Many people would like to see gun reform, drug policy reform, tax reform, but imagine a world in which hearts were reformed.
Even if we have good intentions, we all make mistakes and need forgiveness for the wrong that we commit. When we slander our friends, when we lie to our family, when we hurt even our enemies, we are making mistakes that contribute to the pain and suffering in the world, and we need to seek forgiveness.
Forgiveness from Whom?
Well, obviously the people we have offended…but the facts are, there is a morally perfect God that we have sinned against. He has created us in His image and we have sinned against him in addition to the people around us. We need to seek forgiveness from God for hurting his people, hurting his creation, hurting ourselves, and ultimately for the offenses we have committed directly against Him.
When someone forgives us, they are taking the pain upon themselves and showing you mercy by not giving you what you rightfully deserve (punishment).
There is only one way to make bad people good, and that’s to be able to start over. In other-words, to be born again. No amount of deeds we do can ever fix the damage we’ve done. We are like humpty-dumpty. We had a great fall and no one can put us back together again…but we can be BORN again.
Jesus came into this world 2,000 years ago, lived the perfect life we should have lived and died a death we should have died in our place. All we have to do is accept His free gift and we will be forgiven of our sins.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes anymore, but it means that we can be free from trying to fix ourselves and fix others…now we can let God fix us from the inside out.
And when individual hearts change, that’s when we can see the world transformed.