17The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”
There are diabolical forces at work in the world around us: hate, fear, poverty, addiction. We do not need to presume the existence of demonic beings in the ether to recognize the truth that life is often driven and crushed by forces greater than us – though the manifold mysteries of life do not require us to deny them, either. What “exists” in the realm of the spirit is hard to say, since it does not submit to the rules and tools of science. But the presence of evil we recognize. And that it often clothes itself in light we also understand.
But the Spirit of God we also know: the Spirit of compassion, generosity, healing, and above all truth.
Those who see the suffering of life and say this is our hell are wrong. I understand how they get there, but there is so very much that is rich, wonderful, loving, grace-filled and miraculous in life. There is joy and truth and the possibility of a song in the heart that knows no bounds.
Those who say instead that the world is a battleground between good and evil are only partly right. A battleground imagines more or less equal opposing forces lined up against each other. But there is no equality between the powers of life and death; the grave is empty. It is not only that the decisive battle has happened; evil never had a chance. Evil has not called the world into existence. Evil has not given us the mountains and seas and rich black earth. Evil has not called forth the laughter of a child or the joyful coos of an infant. Evil has not birthed the love that binds a family or the compassion that aids those in need. Evil can only corrupt; it cannot create. And the world belongs to the creator.
So the seventy return with joy that evil was driven back by the word of God’s dawning reign. The light scatters the darkness. Night has no power over the sunrise.
Too often Christians feel helpless before the powers that constrict and corrupt human lives. Too often we submit to such powers of fear and bigotry and self-righteousness – not only around us but within us. But we are heralds of the kingdom. We are children of the resurrection. We are light-bearers. Not that we have light in ourselves, but we can bear witness that the true light has come. And we can let that light shine within us.