Jesus called us evil!
Have you ever noticed how often Jesus used the word evil? For instance, in Matthew 7:11, he is trying to reassure us that God is there for us and he does it by saying that even those of us who are evil do OK by our kids. It seems like a backward way of getting our attention.
First of all, it is good for us to remember that the Gospels were written 40-60 years or so after his death. The authors did not have the advantage of things like tape recorders or video players and Jesus wrote nothing down. So,everything we read in the Gospels was written from memory. When we read a word like evil in the Gospels it helps to remember that we don’t know for sure if that is the exact word that Jesus used.
I pulled out The Five Gospels from the Jesus Seminar and they use the word shiftless instead of evil. They also have this word in pink which means they think that Jesus probably did say something like this. It is close but probably not exact. So, we can take all of that into consideration when we are reading the Bible.
But, let’s say you did not have access to any of that information and you came across this passage where Jesus calls his listeners evil. What do you do with that?
Pay attention to your reaction and what it says about where you are spiritually. If your tendency is to shut down and feel guilty, then what does that tell you about your image of God in that moment? In that moment, breathe into the reality of God as the ever-present presence of love. Then set aside any fear or anxiety you may have about God and the way God sees you and read the passage to hear the essence of the message? The message in Matthew 7:7 is one of reassurance. Jesus was trying to convey to his audience that with all their human imperfections or “evil” ways, even they would take care of their children. He wanted us to see that God was beyond our human pettiness. Most of the time, our default image of God is in our image. Jesus wanted us to radically shift the way we see and experienced God. God was not created in our image rather we were created in God’s image.
So, he may have used strong language to get his point across. And, face it, we can be evil at times. We are capable of doing horrendous things to one another. Grant it, we do this when we forget our divine essence. But Jesus wanted us to see that God is incapable of forgetting what God is. God can never depart from being God. Therefore, God can only do what God does which is to give freely when we ask and love without conditions.
Lean into those words that cause you to want to put the Book down. Listen to what they are really trying to tell you. Let them take you deeper into the experience of the Divine and trust the process.