If you browse around YouTube or Facebook, you may stumble upon some homemade experiments with oobleck or non-Newtonian fluids. This strange but simple concoction of water and corn starch acts like a liquid until impacted by an outside force. Drop a ball into a bucket of oobleck, and the ball bounces instead of sinks. In fact, the stronger the force, the more concrete-like oobleck becomes. Remove the force, and it quickly reverts back to its liquid state. The physics behind this phenomenon has to do with attraction and repulsion.
We all experience a variety of forces that are either attractive or repulsive to us. Those forces are things like life events, temptations, relationships, and opportunities. Our reaction to those forces, however, are not fixed. There are forces and temptations in our lives that once attracted us, but now, having trusted in Jesus, those same things repel us. And the reverse is true as well; some things now attract our attention that were previously undesirable. And yet, this change is not automatic.
The Psalmist states simply, “Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14, NASB95). So often, we get one sided on this; focusing solely on either “depart from evil” or “do good and seek peace.” But in reality, we need to do both in equal measure.
As we grow in Christ, the repulsion of evil and attraction towards doing good and pursuing peace must increase. But again, this happens in balance. The fulcrum, the pivot point, of this balance is love. As we love God, we are attracted by His holiness and repulsed by that which stains righteousness. Our love for God also propels us to love others, to do good and seek peace for them – especially those who still practice wickedness or those we count as our enemies. Jesus said, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27, NASB95) Both the Psalmist and Jesus indicate that this is a choice we must make.
Practically speaking, we live in “this present evil age,” as Paul calls it in Galatians 1:4. Wickedness will be the idol of the world until Christ returns. But we who follow Jesus are no longer of this world. We are called to flee from evil and do good and love God and love others and pursue peace. We don’t just acknowledge these as important, but we must DO them even though surrounded by people, systems, traditions, and governments opposed to that path.
It’s not easy. Walking this way may seem like trying to put out a forest fire with a garden hose – outnumbered and outgunned. But we are not alone. God is with us and we have each other. Several times over, the Bible recounts stories of a small force overcoming a stronger opponent. David and Goliath, Israelites versus the walls of Jericho, Gideon’s small force against an encamped multitude – to name a few. You may feel alone in this battle, but you are not alone. God is with you, and there are a multitude of folks putting these things into practice in some way. Many have traveled the same road, faced the same temptations, encountered the same fears, and been uncertain about their next step. We are in this pursuit to love God and love others together.