The other evening I watched a news piece about dozens and dozens of police officers in NY City. They were cheating the city out of millions by essentially faking disability. They were collecting “pay” for supposed disabilities like depression, physical injuries, social anxiety and more. Over a period of time investigators learned these people were anything but disabled and they had bilked the city of New York big time.
Not long after hearing the news story, I read a devotional piece about the value of life and the problem of evil and how to deal with it as a Christian. What is our responsibility? How do we confront the evil around us? In addition, how do we show the love of God to those who do evil?
I stared out my study window while cogitating how all of this might affect me. As I pondered it all, I saw my neighbor’s patrol car. He’s a county sheriff. Then it began to click. What if it was my neighbor that was fabricating a disability.** What if he was cheating me and the county out of tax dollars to pay for an “injury” he never sustained or, perhaps, an injury he had but has no longer and could easily return to work? (In the NY situation, several of the men had taken different jobs while still collecting for disability.) What is my responsibility as both a Christian and a taxpayer?
Uhm….I wasn’t warming up to the whole idea. Why? First, it was way too close to home. Second, because my neighbor is a Christian and should definitely know better. Third, because we have a personal relationship and if I were to confront him about the issue we are sure to no longer be friends. So, am I to love him and turn a blind eye? Ignore the situation as I have done other bits of evil I’ve bumped into during the course of my life. You know, the don’t-get-involved mentality. I can certainly pray for him, which allows me to stay at arm’s length of the problem. However, not one of these processes confronts or solves the problem.
I hate it when faith collides with real life. It annoys me when I am challenged to see just how I might act in certain circumstances. I would much prefer to avoid evil all together. To stay isolated from people who do evil. To live in a cave, or church, read the Bible and mumble about all those bad people out there doing bad things.
Then reality sets in. I too have a propensity for evil. I am not isolated from evil thoughts or deeds. Does knowing that, understanding that, or confronting that make me better? Does the fact God regularly confronts me with the whole mess change anything? Does the simple act of awareness make me less evil than another? Of course it doesn’t. Does recognition of my own circumstances isolate me from the evil around me? Absolutely not. Does sensitivity to my own tendency toward sin absolve me from confronting harmful acts by other people? Is it the biblical teaching, remove the beam from your own eye before attempting to remove the speck from another person’s eye, coming to roost?
God I don’t mind telling you, I hate these types of conundrums. Couldn’t you make managing my personal life and life around me a bit more comfortable?
**Let me make it clear – my neighbor is NOT in this situation.