Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I'm Not Evil, I'm Just Not a Hero

One of the most iconic scenes in comic book history has been played out a dozen different ways, both on the page and on the big screen. Peter Parker, with newly developed spidery super powers finds himself watching a crime in progress. He has the power to stop it. But the person being robbed has ticked him off and has it coming. So, Peter Parker allows the robbery to occur and let's the criminal escape. A little while later, Peter discovers that the man he let get away has killed his uncle Peter. The discovery is tragic and it turns Peter Parker into Spider-Man, but the scene is a classic, however it plays out, because we have all been tempted at times - not to hurt someone - but to simply not help them. We've all known someone we thought deserved something bad to happen to them and been tempted to let it happen.

Sometimes, we convince ourselves that there is a difference between hurting someone and letting them be hurt, that as long as we are not the ones inflicting pain that we have escaped blame. But Scripture teaches us something very different. In Mark chapter 3, the Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus, to tempt him into breaking the Sabbath so they could discredit him. As such, they watched very closely when Jesus came into contact with a man in need of healing. Jesus, knowing their intentions, said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent (Mark 3:4, HCSB). Jesus didn't simply ask if it was acceptable to do good on the Sabbath, but made them choose between doing good and evil. As far as Jesus was concerned, having the ability to do good and withholding it was evil. James echoed this sentiment in James 4:17, saying, Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it (NLT).

As followers of Christ, we do not have the option of choosing not to help when it is within our power.  We do not have the option of allowing someone to be hurt simply because we think they deserve it. If we have the ability and opportunity to do good, to make a positive difference in someone's life and we choose not to do so, we have chosen to do evil.

The good news is that, like Peter Parker, we can use those failures from the past as lessons and motivation for the future. We serve a merciful and forgiving God who doesn't immediately reject us because we have failed Him. Let us seek God's forgiveness for our failures to do good when we had the opportunity and move forward. From here on out, let us never skip an opportunity to do good when we have the power and opportunity to do so.

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