It’s now a whole week since the horrific killing of 77 people in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik, a fan of violent video games and gory horror movies. Let us not forget those who have been bereaved as well as those whose lives have been physically or mentally scarred, perhaps permanently, by this madman. We can be grateful for those who escaped and that peace has returned, but can anyone deny that the actions of this young man were unspeakably evil. These actions did not come from the normal human psyche. That’s what makes them so hard for us to comprehend. Whatever our world view we have to acknowledge that evil is not, as some claim, simply ignorance. This atrocity was committed with such a force that it should cause us to realise, as Rabbi Sha’ul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul) did, that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12).
In recent years our society has become increasingly fascinated by what is evil, rebellious and alternative. Every generation treads a new path, but in so doing we must continue to reject – and not be fascinated by – what is evil, or as a society we will pay the price. In the same way we must learn to distinguish what is for our good, our safety, our wellbeing, and not with teenage enthusiasm dismiss everything that society stands for as irrelevant or outdated. As Rabbi Sha’ul also wrote, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9).