Freedom from Social Evils
Pr. P. T. Thomas
Man is a social being. He can not live in isolation or hide himself away from the society. Society is formed by individuals living together. Man needs the society just as much as the society needs man. As man is inherently evil, society gets pervaded by evil.
The Bible says: “… the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). So the presence and prevalence of evil in human society is an undeniable reality.
In His great high priestly prayer Jesus said: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15). A child of God has to live in the evil human society, not isolate himself from it. He has to lead a holy life in the midst of evils attempting to influence and reform the society he lives in, so when we speak about freedom from social evils, we do not mean a sage living in isolation, but one who exercises authority over the evil forces around him and seeks to liberate the society from the clutches of evil.
‘When in Rome do as the Romans do’– is a common maxim generally followed by all. It is easy to swim along the current and join the masses in their mad rush. But it is hard to swim against the current. He who refuses to concede to the accustomed norms of the society will be ostracized, alienated and subjected to much suffering. One who tries to correct a social evil will have to face collective resistance from the community. So only one with a very clear conviction, commitment and willingness to suffer for the benefit of others can stand against social evils.
The main obstacle in resisting social evil is that people do not generally take it as an evil at all. Long trodden paths are too hard to till. Even glaring evils like ‘sati’ (the practice of the widow being thrown into the funeral pyre of the dead husband) child marriage, caste system, untouchability, dowry, slave trade – etc. were not considered detestable evils. Those who fought against them had to face and overcome the fury of large sections of the society. People seem to remain under a blinding spell, unable or unwilling to see the reality. It is because the whole world remains under the evil one. The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers and they refuse to see the truth.
So the first and the most important step to liberate people from social evils is to educate them. Only the light of the Word of God can remove the darkness of ignorance, which pervades society. History makes it very clear that it is ‘the light of the world’ even Jesus Christ and His Word that has liberated the world from the enslaving darkness of social evils. The pockets of the world where the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ has not shone still remain under such darkness. Evangelists are torch bearers and heralds of liberation. We who got our blinded eyes opened should now do our utmost to liberate those groping in darkness. We should shine forth to the world around us, reflecting the radiance of the true light of the world – Jesus Christ. It will open the eyes of many and break the shackles of social evils. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the panacea for the evils afflicting the human society.
The pity is that we fail in this noble mission entrusted to us. On the other hand, some of the lesser evils prevailing in the society inject us. Wasteful extravagance prompted by the boastful pride of life is so rampant among us that the godly ones feel very uncomfortable in our ceremonies like a wedding reception and even the wedding ceremony proper. Pomp and show mark even our funeral services. God-given material resources are squandered thoughtlessly to pamper our ego. Such wasteful ostentation has assumed the horrible dimension of an infectious social evil. People compete with each other to excel over the other in pomp and ostentation. We should not forget the fact that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life are from the world (1 John 2:16). Even in spiritual services like the annual convention of the churches, we see this show off and competition to excel the other in ostentation. Everything should be done in a ‘fitting and orderly way’, but doing even the best thing to pamper our ego is an evil. That which happens in the world around us should not affect us. We should not forget that we have been crucified with Christ and we no longer live but Christ lives in us’ (Gal.2:20).
Other social evils like bribe, usury, unfaithfulness in business dealings, cheating, consumption of intoxicating drinks, craze for ornaments, divorce etc. too have made inroads even into the church circles. The most tragic part of it is that even believers no longer consider their malicious practices as evil. Our leaders and teachers are busy groping through the scriptures and its various versions in a desperate bid to locate a word or verse somewhere by which a semblance of an excuse may be offered in defenseof such practices.
Our attitude to evil has undergone a disastrous change. He who does not find any detestable element in an evil can not desire for extricating himself from its clutches. So we should start receiving things in the light of the Word of God and boldly brand an evil an evil. The Word of God has laid bare the heart of God before us. Therein we see the holiness, righteousness, justice and majesty of God. A vision of the holy God will make us see our real state. Prophet Isaiah had a heavenly vision of the majesty of God and he cried out: ‘Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips…’ (Isa. 6:5). A clear vision of the glory of God will make us see ourselves and the society we live in. It will make us cry out as Isaiah did. This is the first step to freedom from social evils. ‘Then you will know, the truth and the truth will set you free… if the Son (Jesus Christ) sets you free, you shall be free indeed’ (John 8:32-36).