It is no easy task to be a Christian in a world of wickedness especially when we are focused on ridding the evil within us. Trying to practice Christianity while being surrounded by wicked people, can feel like a fat person losing weight surrounded by mountains of chocolate cake.
Have you ever tried to fast only to smell your neighbour’s freshly baked cakes wafting through your window? It creeps into your nostrils only to tickle a part of your brain that makes you want to crawl into a tiny ball and die? Yeah, that is what it feels like to most of us Christians trying to exercise the Gospel. The message of forgiveness seems like a teaching we can tip our hat to, until we are provided with an opportunity to practice it.
The reason why cannot advance is mostly due to a lack of grace, and so trying to practice love relying on our own power , never lasts and never sincere as when done with grace. That kind of life may appear to be exercised exclusively by the perfect, however, not beyond the lay persons ability as long as he relies on Christ and not himself.
Wicked people are seen as problematic by us and instead of viewing them as an opportunity to practice Good, are instead viewed as a barrier to Theosis/spiritual progress. In his homily on the power of demons St.John Chrysostom instructs why it is that God mixes the good people with the wicked. He invites us to see the wicked as a gain to our spiritual life and not a hindrance. He even goes on to demonstrate how the wicked benefit from the Christian way of life.
This is why God has left the wicked in the world: so that the good may shine the brighter. Do you see how great the gain is? But the gain is not owing to the wicked, but to the courage of the good. Trees tossed about by contrary winds grow stronger:St.John Chrysostom, homily 3 on the power of Demons, 1
And the wicked gain, too, by mixing with the good. They feel confused; they are ashamed; they blush in the presence of the good. Even if they do not keep from evil, nevertheless they dare what they dare in secret. And this is no small thing, not to have sins publicly committed.
For the life of the good becomes the accuser of their wickedness. “It hurts even to see him, ” they say of the righteous man – and it is no small beginning of amendment to be tormented by his presence. For if the sight of the righteous man did not torment them, they wouldn’t have said that. But to be stung and pricked in the conscience when he is present would be a considerable hindrance to enjoying wickedness.
So do you see how much the good gain from the wicked, and the wicked from the good? This is why God has not set them apart, but allowed them to be mixed together.
I’ve highlighted some words of St.John that I thought were worthy of more meditation upon and I hope you’ve found this post to be useful on the way. I am on that journey with you.