The Appearance Of Evil?

A few years ago, when I worked for a Christian missions organization, I got into trouble for carpooling. Well, not so much for carpooling, but carpooling with a female. This is what happened.
Three of us who worked together and lived in the same area decided to start to carpool—two male and one female. It was good for the environment and even better for our pocketbooks. All went well till the day my other male carpool buddy had to run an errand after work and needed to drive his own car. We never thought anything of it; as usual, I picked up my female co-worker and drove to the office.
As we entered the parking lot, another co-worker was just entering the building and saw us pull into my parking spot. Within a few minutes, I was reported to the boss for carpooling with a female, and was called into his office.
I was basically told that carpooling with a female had the appearance of evil, and I shouldn’t do it. Although I should have been flattered that my boss thought so highly of my multitasking abilities—being able to maneuver L.A. freeways while driving and, at the same time, performing whatever else it was that they thought I was doing—I was deeply offended and felt dishonored. In any case, I refused to obey, and continued to carpool with and without the third party.
What infuriated me even more was what took place a couple of weeks later when I approached my boss on the same subject.
“Don’t worry about it. We just found out that our president has been carpooling with his secretary for the last 20 years. So, you can now continue to carpool with a female in your car,” he said so nonchalantly.
Talk about being frustrated and angry! When I did it, it had the appearance of evil; but when the president did it, not only it was righteous, but also it became a moral and spiritual precedent for the rest of us peons. And all this time I’d thought Jesus was my moral guide. It wasn’t long after that the president, my moral compass, had to resign because of some financial irregularities.
What is this “appearance of evil” that we should avoid? Who decides that?
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I’m flying back to Burbank from Springfield, Ore., and have a two-hour layover in San Francisco. It’s Monday night, and a Monday Night Football game is on. My favorite team is playing against the Steelers—any team that plays against the Steelers is my favorite team. I decide to sit at a bar, order a hamburger and, while eating my dinner, I watch the game.
I notice my phone is dying, so I ask the bartender if I could plug in my charger anywhere. He places a power strip on the bar in front me and tells me to help myself. That’s when a very pretty young lady who was sitting behind me moves over and sits right next to me.
“My computer is dying. Do you mind if I share the power strip with you?” she asks.
I’m very used to this. Almost always female strangers start conversing with me without any hesitations. This has nothing to do with my charming personality, but a gift the Lord has given me. People, especially women, find me trustworthy, a man with no agenda, who cares.
We spend the next half an hour talking. She tells me she’s waiting for her friend to join her, so they can go paint the town together. As I’m talking to this young, beautiful lady, I’m so grateful that I no longer work for that missions organization, which would have frowned upon seeing one of their top men talking to a strange young woman in a bar. OMG, talk about the appearance of evil.
As I get up to leave, I’m impressed to do something.
“Do you like to read?” I ask her.
She says, “I love to read.”
“I’d like to give you a gift. It’s my new book.”
“I love it. Thank you!”
I autograph my book, hand it to her, and say goodbye.
On occasions, I’ve given my book to strangers, but have never heard from any of them until the above young lady. For almost a month I’ve been thinking and praying for June (not her real name) when I get a long email from her. This is how she starts it:
“It was a real pleasure meeting you that day, and after reading
(devouring?) your book I only wish I had spoken with you more! Your
book really resonated with me. It was written in such a way that I
felt a close connection with you; the way you wrote about your
experiences was like a friend sitting next to me telling these
stories. It gives me hope in my struggles as a young woman.”
Even if I were still working for my old employer, I’d have still risked being accused of “giving the appearance of evil” to experience the above interaction. But, thank God, I don’t. I wonder what Jesus would have done?
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7 thoughts on “The Appearance Of Evil?

  1. Wow, Shah, that was a great blog. How wicked of you by the way, sitting at a bar eating a hamburger, you should order a salad, lol. I told you that book of yours is a great way of sharing deep Biblical truths of hope and redemption. I'm telling you, I need to purchase a box of them! You have a great gift, no doubt people sense they can trust you and feel comfortable talking to you. Most women can sense creeps a mile away and I am sure she sensed you were a trustworthy person. Great example of legalism, holding the standards to another man, what a joke. How do you think it looked when I, a married woman, drove around a strange Middle Eastern man all week! No one rebuked me yet.

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  2. Thanks Katie! Can you imagine what we would have to Jesus if He walked among us today. The church would have crucified him.

    This the kind of conversation we would have with his disciples:

    “Hey Peter, you guys are a bunch of evil morons. I saw your, so called leader, hanging out with a hooker last night. In fact, that pervert was getting his hair mussed by some hussy as he was sitting at a bar drinking his wine.”

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  3. Thank you so much for your incredible insights and being very much Jesus like. You and your writings are fantastic. I need this fresh wind from God breezing through you.
    Thank you so much. I enjoy each and everyone of these emails.
    God bless, prosper and increase your fruit and bring liberty and freedom to the church of the Lord.

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  4. “APPEARANCE OF EVIL”…
    Takes me right back to the Pharisees accusing Jesus of eating (carousing?) with prostitutes & tax collectors…
    Thanks for this…
    J

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  5. I had an interesting conversation with one of my students about this… The old King James says “avoid every appearance of evil”. A better translation is “avoid every type / kind of evil”. This verse in context is part of Paul instructing believers on how to deal with prophetic utterance: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophesying but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” I Thess 5:19-22 ESV It is NOT instruction that is meant to stand alone… how could it? Whether it was the disciples not washing their hands, eating grain on the Sabbath, or Jesus hanging out with questionable people, it is next to impossible to avoid the “appearance” of evil – if what you mean by that is “Don't even LOOK like you're doing something bad!” Jesus did not meet this standard, and quite frankly this isn't really taught elsewhere in the Scriptures in the passages that inform our conduct as disciples. This mis-translation and resulting mis-interpretation has lead to a lot of well meaning legalism, the example you gave being only one of them. I don't doubt the sincerity of many who have used this verse out of context to say something that it does not mean. If the Word DID say this then I should take it seriously, however it simply does not. ***Although, correcting this takes away a serious principle to bang Jr. highers over the head with in Youth Group!?!? 🙂 Darn it… 🙂 Freedom is risky, grace is messy. We should be cautious in our conduct and interactions with people (“let him who stands take heed lest he fall”), but mis-interpreting the Word does no one any favors and does not produce righteousness or ultimately protect anyone. ****MY APOLOGIES FOR THE MINI-BOOK!

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