Good vs. Evil; Us vs. Them

Life Notes—September 8, 2011

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree in the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’”  Genesis 2:15-17

I was between early-morning meetings when I noticed a number of people crowded around a television set, watching smoke and flames shoot from the upper floors of theNorthTowerof theWorldTradeCenter.  It was September 11, 2001 and the video was stunning.  We saw specks falling from the building—people jumping to their deaths.  No one was certain of the cause, but something ugly had happened.  As we watched another plane crashed into theSouthTowerwe knew this was no accident. 

Those piloting the planes into the towers angled them just before impact so the jet fuel and debris field would be spread over many floors, not just one or two floors from a level hit.  Evil.  But some in theMiddle Eastcelebrated this unprecedented attack on the ‘Great Satan.’  What we saw as evil, some saw as good.  Do we need to eat, again, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?  I will argue, though not today, the knowledge gained by Adam and Eve from this particular tree in the garden was self-awareness, i.e., being aware of themselves as separate, independent beings—apart from God, apart from each other, apart from the rest of humanity.  It was the beginning of the “us vs. them” syndrome that has plagued civilizations since.  Rather than a net knowledge gain, however, it was a partial knowledge loss. Our attention is so focused on how we differ, we no longer see our interconnectedness.  We gain a measure of self-worth by drawing attention to the ways our lives are superior to the lives of ‘them,’ whoever ‘they’ may be.  Christians, Jews and Muslims share an Old Testament heritage and a common ancestor.  Abraham was promised to be father of a great nation; but that nation is deeply divided. 

Don’t get me wrong.  In no way do I make excuses for the horrific events of 9/11, nor for any other slaughter of innocent people, regardless of the perpetrators or their reasoning.  However, as long as we continue to focus on our differences, rather than our common heritage and our common Creator and our common bonds, our interpretation of good and evil and the resultant actions will continue to divide us, often in tragic and violent ways. 

This Sunday will be a service of Remembrance and Hope, remembering the tragic events of September 11, 2001, on its tenth anniversary.  Tom and Mitch will begin a four-week series titled, “Why?”  This Sunday’s sermon title is “Why Do The Innocent Suffer?”  The scripture reference is Genesis 1:26-31; 2:15-17.   Tom is preaching downtown, where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Mitch will be at the west campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Come home to church this Sunday.  We are one body, whether we recognize it or not…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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