Finn Daly is six years old and lives in West Hartford, Connecticut. He has Down Syndrome and autism. He also has a great love and appreciation for our country’s flag. He can sit on the floor of his house and look through the storm door at the flag flying outside for long periods of time. His parents say there is something about the movement of the flag that capture’s Finn’s attention.
The neighborhood they live in has several houses that display the flag, so the family likes to take long, leisurely strolls. Finn’s favorite stop is at the home of Todd Disque. The flag there is not attached to the house but rather to a tree by the sidewalk so Finn has an up-close view of it. Disque had noticed Finn’s fascination with the flag and was moved to do something. He crafted a stool for him to sit on. He wrote “Finn’s bench” on it and placed it by the tree for the boy to find.
And he did. Finn’s family was touched by the gesture as much as he was, and the story was picked up by CBS news as their final segment in a recent broadcast. It’s the kind of story about goodwill and caring for each other that the news media likes to stick at the end of their programs so they can end on a positive note.
It’s kind of like spraying Febreze in your trash can to make it smell better.
Don’t get me wrong, I applaud their effort but after 23 minutes of murder, mayhem, violence, and generally depressing news, 120 seconds of a feel-good story doesn’t make it all go away. If the networks and news feeds were serious about fair and balanced reporting—then half of their stories would be “good news” stories and the other half would consist of the things we don’t like to hear about but need to. (After all, no one I know is interested in running away from reality).
Think about what would happen if we started spending more time dwelling on the good in our world and less time dwelling on the bad. It still wouldn’t make the bad news go away, but our outlook would change, our attitude would follow right behind it and before long, we would start treating each other differently. As I write this our country has just experienced two mass killings within 24 hours of each other. We have some very real problems—problems that aren’t going to solved by simply passing more laws (and we’ll take all of the good legislation we can get!). But the reality of the situation is that in the end, our problems aren’t legislative ones—they are problems of the heart that can ultimately be changed only by God as people turn their lives over to Him. And if people start pursuing good, sooner or later they will end up at God.
We’re told in Romans 12:21 not to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good. That’s what it takes to change the world—people who are committed to being lights for the glory of God no matter what. But our choices are starkly simple: we will either be overcome by evil or we will overcome it through good.
If you think all of this sounds great but is too idealistic, I understand. But I’m not talking about sprinkling in a little good here and there, I’m talking about selling ourselves out to good. Only when we have that kind of commitment will we be able to influence the lives of others. It will help us to remember this is exactly the path that Jesus chose. He pursued good all of the way to the point of dying on the cross for the sins of the world. Furthermore, this is exactly the path His early disciples chose as well. They loved and served people despite the atrocities inflicted upon them by the Roman Empire. How did that work out? Today the kingdom of God covers the earth while Rome is a tourist destination.
Overcoming evil with good isn’t just a good idea, it’s God’s idea.