Life and reality are not a Hollywood movie with clear “good guys” (who are really good) and “bad guys” (who are really bad) battling things out for cosmic reasons. Certainly there are both really good people, really bad people, and cosmic battles in play, but many situations do not neatly fit into this simple context. For example, I love what America has aspired to be and do, but I also know many things that are a stain on our practices in history and multiple abuses of power we have deployed. People and systems are flawed in a fallen world.
Beyond “fallenness” there is the problem of the gap between intentions and results. How many of you, like me, have tried to do one thing with good intentions only to see the results of your speech or actions go sideways fast? Miscalculations, bad information, and others’ perceptions can combine to produce strange things indeed. The abuse of power, for “good reasons” of course, is a similar no-brainer as well; win-win situations are often not as common as we would all like to believe. “Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves” can look very strange when the way we love ourselves is not always healthy. The facts being told, true Christianity requires major adjustments in the ways and reasons we have loved ourselves outside of Christ’s influence.
All of this points once again to why we need to base our assessments of good guys and bad guys upon the alignment of their words and deeds with specific principles. Principle-based decision making (the Scriptures) must make its way quickly back into our culture unless we want the good guys/bad guys mythology to keep us locked in political unrealities and ugly divisions. Who is good and who is bad is, in truth, based upon revealed motives, principles in play, and all potential advantages revealed to the best of our abilities. Who is wearing the “halo” and who is wearing the “horns” is, in many cases, no more helpful than external affiliations or perceived boxes into which we place people and situations.
Evil is afoot, as is good. Some causes and some people’s agendas and non-biblical proposals are obviously one or the other. Here is what concerns me: This society and many of its leaders are so confused and ill-informed, that good and evil easily masquerade and are not at all what they appear to be. Go after the principles their agendas or speech reveal. More than ever, discernment is critically essential, and that really is… THE BOTTOM LINE.