God’s presence and authenticity is challenged by several different groups and many individuals. Yet, if we accept God we accept and recognize Evil, because God’s book tells us there is evil. One passage on evil is from Psalm 23 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (23:4 ESV) Another often spoken verse from Jesus teaching on prayer “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13 ESV)
In non-believing circles God’s existence is challenged, yet Evil seems to be accepted quite readily. Is there Evil in the world? That is Evil with a capital “E.” In other words, is there some actor working to corrupt individuals or organizations. It would be easy to imagine an overwhelming response of agreement. It appears generally people accept a sort of dualism, a God who loves and shows mercy and an Evil one who creates bad and seeks division. Clearly, not everyone believes in God, but what about the Evil aspect? Do atheists think there is Evil?
A couple of questions might be asked; how and where does Evil act? There are those who point to evil whenever some human initiated tragedy occurs. The shooting in Las Vegas; Parkland, FL; Sandy Hook; 9/11 and other similar tragedies. If Evil is a major actor in these events, does Evil succeed? Mala Yousafzai, a Pakistani-Muslim girl who fought for women’s rights against the Taliban, encountered evil, what does her story say about the success of Evil? She survived an attempted assassination and in 2014 became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Prize. Her life has become a witness to the cause she was trying to highlight and more and more good can be seen coming from the attempted assassination. It is possible to believe that even if she had died she would have become a martyr for her cause. The assassin, in trying to put out her light, has done more to brightening her and the cause she represents. So would an Evil actor be satisfied in this kind of act or the others mentioned? In each case it seems it is possible that more good comes from the human tragedies. They support a notion that God can even use evil for good.
But is Evil some scary demon, prowling looking for victims? It seems if Evil acts in the light of day, using tragedy, it harms the cause for Evil and is probably better for the God business. Actually, Evil exists in secret. Evil works best at the point of relationship, at connections between people. Can we explore this kind of evil with a small story?
Crunches Grocery Store
There is a small grocery store in your home town, Crunches. It has enough items to keep the regulars coming, rather than running off to the Super-Center in the next town. It does okay week to week in sales and popularity. There is a small team running the store, they have worked together for a few years. They are not the perfect team but have had a certain success as a team. Their smallness comes from the fact everyone knows each other and works together, meet together and have influence with the store manager Viena.
Renak likes Crunches and the small town where it is located. Needing a job and hoping to move to the town Renak approaches the store manager, Viena. Renak has heard Viena is very gregarious, easy to work for and says yes to almost everything. As store manager, Viena trusts the team to run the store while attending to things that are important to her and mostly staying out of the way. Viena does feel a certain authority to make decisions and expects the team will support her. After meeting Renak, Viena likes him and thinks Renak could take over the Produce department. It will give Artie less responsibility and more free time, you see Artie takes care of Produce, Non-foods and the Delicatessen. Renak could be the answer to Viena’s prayers. Viena has always thought Produce could use more attention, sure Artie was doing a good enough job, but Viena hoped for more. So Viena is inclined to hire Renak on the spot and implies so in their conversation. Renak leaves Viena feeling he has a new job.
Viena begins to spread the word in the store that she has met with someone new and tells of Renak and his experience in Produce and she is sure he is an answer to prayer. Most of the team are unaffected but are glad of Viena’s joy. However, not everyone is happy, particularly Artie who sees the Produce department is running perfectly for the store, plus it has a special place in his heart, it was where he started at Crunches. But besides his personal feelings Artie envisions problems with Renak leading Produce. See Artie knows Renak, in fact has worked with him a little and while he thinks in time Renak could be a good leader of Produce he feels more time, experience and mentorship is required.
When Viena sees Artie and shares this exciting news she is met with a cold bucket of water dumped on her. Artie explains the concerns he has and problems he sees with Renak taking over the Produce department at Crunches . He states his objections quite strongly and without deviation. Viena tries to dissuade Artie of the negative impact but leaves the conversation disheartened and wondering. In time Viena tells Artie she has decided not to hire Renak based on Artie’s objections.
Renak is informed by Viena of this new decision, but Renak can tell Viena’s heart is not in this changed scenario, in fact, speaking to Renak, Viena tells him she really thought he was an answer to prayers. Renak sees hope in the response from Viena and can’t leave it there and quietly begins to speak to other members of the team. Viena spends time in the store, she begins to talk to the cashiers, who tell him they think he would have been good and they don’t really know what Artie’s objections are or why Viena is listening to Artie. Renak speaks to the warehouse team and hears the same thing from them. Renak then speaks to Shelly who works part-time in Produce and questions her about what could be better. After this discussion Renak is armed with the weaknesses Shelly shared and thoughts Renak himself has to improve Produce. So Renak returns to Viena and uses all the information he has collected from the team to pressure Viena into ignoring Artie’s concerns. Renak now sees himself as the answer to Viena’s prayers.
Viena knows she has already given Artie a promise but decides to call a team meeting and see where everyone is on hiring Renak for herself, all cards on the table. At the meeting sides are drawn. There are those who believe Viena should hire whomever she wants, and Artie appears to have too much power. Others have befriended Renak and want to see him be able to get his life together and sees this job as a good chance for Renak. Artie of course still has strong feelings about Renak not having the skills to lead Produce and after watching Renak around the store whispering to the team sees him as untrustworthy and secretive and is even more convinced there is no place for Renak at Crunches. At the meeting, discussion is feisty and opinions expressed, led by Viena who clearly wants to hire Renak despite the promise and concerns of Artie. However, in the meeting the strongest voices expressed that the team has to listen to Artie as he has some experience with Renak and is the current Produce manager. It was an unsettling meeting, sides were hardened, the team was splitting. Viena affirms the decision not to hire Renak and closes the meeting.
The initial meeting between Renak and Viena was several months prior and Renak still comes to the store speaking quietly to the team members. Ultimately Viena makes a different decision, she pulls Artie aside and says things have changed. Viena tells Artie, “after the team meeting we held several weeks ago and although everyone on the team supported you, the next day they quietly came to me and told me they changed their minds. They expressed if I want to hire Renak than I should and they’ll support me.” Viena went on to tell Artie she had done exactly that and Renak starts working at Crunches within the week. Artie of course is hurt, disappointed and feels betrayed.
In time the team splits even further. Artie and Renak can’t work together as it is widely known that Artie was against Renak’s hiring and every interaction is colored by a certain prejudice of this history. Others reach out to Renak, helping him every way they could, particularly those who changed their minds and told Viena she should hire Renak, feeling a certain responsibility for him. Of course in time trust eroded more, meetings become more unfriendly and every moment going forward is colored by the split in the team from this episode. Viena and Artie worked through this difficult breaking of word to reach a place of congeniality. But returning to a place of complete trust is not possible.
As the weeks pass Artie sees mistrust all over the store. Eventually Viena changes her mind on something else and Artie sees this as another breaking of word and can no longer be at the store. The team is surprised at Artie’s leaving but all try to step in and pick up the slack. Thus a new team is formed at Crunches and there doesn’t seem to be any devastating impact of the hiring event in terms of sales or popularity. Sure people miss Artie but they are just as happy to meet Renak. In time all is “normal” at Crunches.
This is not a story with death, horror or even outright violence. But, I hope it does point to some key areas where Evil could be pleased.
- Certainly there was something in Viena not letting go of the desire to hire Renak.
- Renak’s whisper campaign has the footprints of a dishonest element working.
- Is Artie truly objecting to Renak’s leadership because of business concerns or are his personal desires to hang on to Produce coloring his objections?
- The team speaking in the meeting one way and privately differently seems to have several dishonest issues.
- How the relationships have been permanently changed, and each team member subconsciously aware they can’t trust others is ever present.
- In fact a certain fear of a lack of security, and an inability to trust must pervade the thinking of all who were involved.
Are there other issues that you see in this story?
What do you think?
Was there a demon in the story? No. Was there Evil? Many would say there was no Evil. Was the good of God promoted? Was the agenda of Evil promoted? Given the true incidents mentioned at the beginning of this article and the fictitious events at Crunches where do you think Evil is most satisfied?
In speaking about sin Paul refers to one small sin having an impact on the entire Body of Christ, even in places completely unaware of the sin. Crunches grocery store has an impact beyond its walls. Do we characterized this event as sinful? Is this something that can be easily repeated?God’s presence and authenticity is challenged by several different groups and many individuals. Yet, if we accept God we accept and recognize Evil, because God’s book tells us there is evil. Click To Tweet Mala Yousafzai, a Pakistani-Muslim girl who fought for women’s rights against the Taliban, encountered evil, what does her story say about the success of Evil? @malafund #nobel Click To Tweet Clearly, not everyone believes in God but what about the Evil aspect? Do atheist think there is Evil? Click To Tweet In speaking about sin Paul refers to one small sin having an impact on the entire Body of Christ, even in places completely unaware of the sin. Crunches grocery store has an impact beyond its walls. Do we characterized this event as… Click To Tweet