Strapping a bomb on a little girl and sending her to blow up people? Evil.
Storming a workplace and executing employees and customers? Evil.
Blasting into a school and slaughtering children and teachers? Evil.
Our natural inclination is to denounce it and respond.
Unfortunately our natural response is retaliation.
The Apostle Paul warned against repaying evil with evil.
Jesus said to pray for those who persecute us.
Pray for the terrorists?
Pray for the workplace and school shooters?
Pray for the torturers?
Pray for the executioners?
Pray for the cheaters?
That. Is. So. Hard.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus – teaching us how to pray – included the line:
“…deliver us from evil.”
Yes, evil exists.
Yes, evil hurts the victim.
Yes, evil hurts the person who performs the evil act.
“Deliver us from evil.”
Deliver us from being harmed by evil.
But also, deliver us from doing evil.
Because…you know…sometimes we do.
What if victims, instead of planning retaliation, prayed for the evildoer(s)?
Lord, deliver the evildoer(s) from doing evil.
“Deliver us (all of us) from evil.”
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:17-21 NRSV