In HOPE

  In HOPE 6.36                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

For those of you thirsty for deeper Christian spiritual formation, David Benner's Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction (IVP, 2002; 240 pp) is full of wisdom and resources. Benner has written some wonderfully insightful books in recent years, on the deeper journey of faith.

Hope Happenings

On-ground classes are in recess this week for Thanksgiving Break here at the University. Happy Thanksgiving to all those celebrating it in the United States (and elsewhere)!

Current Series

This series continues to explore the significance of the Lord's Prayer for our lives. Today's column is week seven. We conclude the series next week.

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831

Pray then in this way: "Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen." (Matthew 6.9-13)


Deliver Us From Evil

With a growing "Axis of Evil" and the personifying of evil in Islamic extremism, Jesus' prayer seems more urgent than ever.

The Jews of the first century likely heard this phrase -- "Deliver us from evil" -- the same way we do. They despised the oppressive Roman occupation of their land. They resented the brutality and violence that produced the pax Romana. They felt indignant about the threat to their own faith and families. The "evil" is obvious. Father, deliver us from these contemptible Romans. 

The most insidious and lethal expression of evil, however, lies not in foreign ideologies or tyrannical regimes but within our own hearts. We don't rush to admit it, but know we must. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus shrinks  the circles of danger, until we see primarily ourselves.

"Do not lead us into temptation" exposes our real struggle.

My most mortal enemy is not the one who forces me against my will, but the one who destroys my by appealing to my will. It won't help me to muster field-savvy soldiers for this battle. I need spiritual reserves, spiritual reinforcements, and spiritual tactics.

Deliver us from evil.

Perhaps Jesus refers to "the evil one." The grammar of the text would support such a reading (see the New International Version). But might this simply be a way of highlighting how entrenched, how serious, and how grim is the evil within? We all know it.

We don't need to hone theoretical arguments about original sin or the depravity of humanity. Our everyday reality causes us to cry out like the lepers "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us" (see Lk 17.13).

Deliver us from evil.

And, if we are serious in our plea, He does -- not by destroying every vestige of evil in our culture but by transforming the home of evil in our hearts. Is there a day that we don't need to pray this prayer? Is there a moment when, standing in His light we don't see more of our own darkness?

Jesus' prayer surprises us. In our shame and fear we want to ignore the reality of evil, lest it provoke the Father's rebuke. But Jesus invites us to name it, so the Father can join with us in defeating it.

Have you named the enemy in your own heart today? Evil has many names: anger, lust, jealousy, greed, pride, aggression, bitterness, indifference, etc. May He continue to dispel our darkness!

In HOPE -

David

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For back issues of "In HOPE" (2005, 2006) go to http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/.

David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.