Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but whoever pursues evil will die. -Proverbs 11:19
Dear members and friends,
We often think of good versus evil as a common biblical theme, but in actuality, the bible makes a contrast between righteousness and evil. This is a significant distinction because righteousness is one of the attributes of the eternal God in the Bible. However, these days I observe a noticeable hesitation among people in using the term “righteous” because it is often abused and interpreted as an absolute way of being. But in the Bible, righteousness is more comparable to appropriateness or decency rather than an absolute right versus wrong idea, choice or action. In a deeper sense, being righteous means to choose a way of life that is leading oneself toward a union with the eternal God, while pursuing evil means to choose a path or lifestyle that is destructive toward oneself or others.
Evil, on the other hand, is a troublesome term and concept both in the Bible and in our daily lives. Evil is often described in the Bible as something that is always present within us, waiting for the moment when we become spiritually weakened to appear. In this way, it sounds very similar to a virus. One of the terrifying things about viruses is that they can go dormant inside our body while we are strong and healthy! According to Swedenborg, evil does not have its own origin nor is it able to self-reproduce. In a way, it could be described as infecting and perverting that which is good until it loses its ability to nurture life within and around. There is a striking similarity between how viruses harm the physical body and how evil harms the spiritual body.
One comforting message from Swedenborg is that eternal Creator permits evil to be present in humans so that we have something inward to struggle against in order to achieve spiritual cultivation. It is a bit of a stretch, but perhaps the viruses that trouble all of us on earth are permitted by God so that the whole of humanity can reflect on what we have done to the Earth and to each other. Through this struggle, we might find and cultivate a more harmonious way of living together. Having this in mind, I feel that it is not a time to panic or to be scared, but a time to be strong in mind and in body. If we are to fight against something, it is much more effective to stay calm and healthy.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee