Selfishness, hate, even evil aren’t all bad. If a person is only concerned with the bottom line, then navigating life with the devil whispering in one ear frequently pays solid dividends. If a utilitarian end is the only concern, then a questionable means is often provides a reliable way to get there. In the end, what is wrong with helping that which is holy climb to power using a less than holy but effective ladder?
There are two ways of answering this question. We could speak purely on principle or we could give and example that illustrates a larger pattern. Let’s begin with an illustrative story that hints at a broader pattern. When I was in high school, I was fortunate enough to have an unusually thoughtful history teacher. During one segment of the our course, she divided the class up, handed out boards, and had each of us pick a country to represent.
For one class period, we played at governing the world. We forged alliances, signed treaties, made sub-rosa promises and began to learn the intricacies involved in multi-national governance. Informing every decision were our attempts to maintain and gain territory. I happen to be extremely competitive, so I was out to rule the roost.
Finally, the teacher announced that it was almost time to wrap things up and our current round of play would be our last. Sensing my opportunity to “win” by ending the game with the most territory, I broke all my treaty promises and lunch a nuclear attack against their signatories. People were furious with me, but as the game ended, I ruled the world because their countries now lay in ruins.
Except for one small problem. The teacher than explained that she had erred. There would, indeed, be one more round of play. Needless to say, that was the end of my country and the ended of our little board-game world. People retaliated, and the “end” number two was vicious.
What I learned that day was that by whatever underhanded means we might chose, we can generally attain the ends we desire. But the end one gains is never, ever, the full end of the matter. What evil means are remarkably good at securing are short-term ends. They are incredibly bad at gaining long-term, sustainable ends that will last through all the ends to come before the final end of days.
That is the pattern that played out in the crucifixion when Evil thought it had won. Then three days later, the end turned out not to be the end at all. It is the pattern I fear as people lie about the existence of global climate change. They do it because the long-term survival of the planet will not put short-term food on their table or gas in their cars. It is the pattern I wonder about when western states build far more homes than they should to continue expanding their economies, and so their tax bases, construction profits, and populations, all while ignoring the truth of long-term dwindling water resource. Same to in Florida when short-term profits see people building and buying in flood and huracane zones.
Chose your situation, pick you poison. It make no difference, the long term always comes, and it always wins. It isn’t just a spiritual law. It is also a physical law because I believe God built it into the system. We ignore the truth of that system at our peril
Read More from Love: The Foundation
In 2002, I visited Maine to see Gregg, my college roommate, and his young family. At the Naval Academy, Gregg and I made strange bedfellows: