Insights From Cole Richards, VOM President, On Responding to Evil

The following reflection is written by Cole Richards, President of The Voice of the Martyrs. In this insightful passage, he offers insight on how the global body of Christ can respond to acts of violence against fellow believers.

There are often stories in our magazine that describe acts of cruelty. We present these true testimonies carefully and responsibly, yet readers will surely experience strong emotions as they enter into fellowship with our precious Christian family members who have suffered. The word “inhuman” is sometimes used to describe acts of cruelty and abuse, and that usage has merit in declaring the truth of evil spiritual powers that inspire the acts of wicked men. However, scripture informs us that abominable acts are inherently part of the fallen condition of lost and sinful people. We may be shocked by cruelty and wickedness, but we should not be surprised.

The Apostle Paul describes the lost as being “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2) and quotes the Psalmist in Romans 3:13–18 to explain the extreme depth of this lostness. Apart from God, he says, “all have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” They attack with words — “they use their tongues to deceive … their mouths are full of curses and bitterness.” They attack with acts of violence — “their feet are quick to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” All of this stems from the foundational truth of their condition: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (v. 18).

As we face the reality of extreme depravity and wickedness in the fallen world, we may sorrow but should never despair. Sorrow is an appropriate response to wickedness as it leads us to agree in prayer with God, standing with him in opposition to wickedness and evil. We join God in hating evil (Proverbs 8:13; Psalm 97:10; Romans 12:9), and we cry out to him on behalf of our afflicted Christian brothers and sisters. This results in his leading us to comfort, encourage and support them in their time of need.

In this way, godly sorrow leads us to action, whereas the enemy would like to see us inactive — bogged down in despair, which leaves us hopeless and purposeless. I recently read a secular publication in which the author argued that the word “hope” is empty and meaningless. I agree! The words “in Christ” must be added for it to have meaning and efficacy. Because of our hope in Christ, we rejoice in our sorrow and remain active and full of purpose.

We must join God in hating and opposing evil yet also join him in his mission to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). We may struggle with our Lord’s instruction to hate the wicked acts of the lost while joyfully paying any price to seek their salvation, but praise God that our persecuted Christian family members are showing us the way! In some of VOM’s magazine stories, you will see the depravity of wicked men, but you will also see the power of God, who is infinitely greater than any sin and suffering.

The Shocking Wickedness of Lost Men
Categories: Stories from the Field

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