Friday, September 07, 2007


con·flu·ence n.1. a flowing together of two or more streams, a point at which streams combine, or a stream formed by their combining. Also called conflux.

An interesting confluence happened in the past couple of days. I meet with a number of groups to pray for the city of Toronto and the GTA region. We have been wondering and praying about how to overcome some of the evil influences in our city with the rise of crime and violence and traffic accidents and spiritual apathy. In our prayer and discussions one of the chief things that came out was that when we focus on evil we actually accentuate or even glorify that evil and miss what God is trying to do and say.

Then I got an email from someone who spoke about the same thing in the context of a Christian response to the Halloween season. "Interestingly, I was listening to a teaching on the way home - he was talking about redeeming time, and specifically focused on Halloween as a specific time where through the ages there has been much demonic defilement, reinforced again and again over the years, that the actual time seems defiled. His strategy? Worship gatherings. To redeem the time (the date on the calendar) by filling the air with worship of the One True God to displace all the demonic worship. Here's my thinking. I think if we gather [a prayer team to confront evil activity or teaching], it would "give it place." However, what if we were to just have a worship gathering - or several worship gatherings that night, as others have suggested? We don't have to focus on or even mention anything about evil at all - Halloween is enough of a reason to implement the strategy of "displacement".

I also just read a review of N.T.Wright's book "Evil and the Justice of God" and the reviewer (Samuel Wells in Christian Century) says:

"In a lucid treatment of this perennial conundrum, N. T. Wright argues that pondering the "problem of evil" is an activity that displaces us from the business of implementing the healing, restorative justice of God. The problem of evil is philosophically located in theoretical analysis of an inherently distant God-that is, the deist God of the Enlightenment. By contrast, Wright engages with the scriptural God, revealed through narrative rather than theory and addressed through lament, obedience, discipleship and faith rather than through dispassionate analysis-in short, the God of Jesus Christ. Christ's death and resurrection, the promise and embodiment of forgiveness, and the hope of God's final victory make the people of God a people who bring into the present a reconciliation that is assured in the future."

That's a long way of saying that focusing so much on evil means we have a deficient view of God. Focusing on evil displaces us from our position as worshippers of God, as seeing Him in His incarnation, and often blinds us from seeing Him at work in the world.

So our response to evil - implement the healing, restorative justice of God through worship, prayer and action.

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