“Money is the root of all evil,” a saying of the Apostle Paul, must be understood as part of an even bigger picture: that humans have turned their faces away from the Creator towards the bewitching glitz of things that can never do more than give fleeting pleasure and simulated happiness (and yes, even fifty, sixty, or seventy years is fleeting beside eternity). Beneath the hunger for the glamour and shine and sense of being in control that real or digital bullion promises, there is the age-old original lie. “You will not die if you take it, but you will become as wise as God, knowing all about [and by implication controlling] good and evil.”
Yeshua speaking to Nakdimon about “spiritual rebirth from above” was talking about true radical change, because more of the same – using the power of the state, of religion, of fear and manipulation and control to compel outer conformity, whether by actual law or social pressure, cannot produce true readiness and willingness, let alone ability, to enter the Kingdom of the Creator.
Nakdimon was one of the elite. He, however, did not disdain or outright reject Yeshua. His opening remark, “Rabbi, we know it is from God that you have come as a teacher; for no one can do these miracles you perform unless God is with him,” shows that he had been pondering the contradiction in the elitist line of saying Yeshua was a sorcerer or a demonically controlled charlatan. By this point, the popular Galilean rabbi had a reputation and a following and his teaching was known and reported regularly to the Jerusalem Sanhedrin. It centered on the coming of the Kingdom of God.
What if we just accept that we cannot overcome this “heart of darkness” we find thrusting itself forward? But the more we let it have its way, the easier evil becomes, and the less it bothers us as we go along giving in to it. If that’s just the way we are, why not use it?
Everything begins with a Creator. If we deny this essential starting point, we have already thrown away the road map for the journey. After that, we wander “lost” in an uncharted wilderness, having to discover everything for ourselves and to find our own meaning for everything. We become subject to all kinds of fancies and whims about “who, what, where, when, why, and how”. We create all our own answers to all the basic questions of existence. And we are tremendously proud that we can do this and have done it, like fully matured and emancipated adults.
The nitty-gritty of our struggle with the evil within is not resolved by abstract reasoning. It is faced every day in our decisions about how to treat family members, friends and acquaintances, business and work colleagues, schoolmates, strangers, and our planet. Most of these decisions are made casually, on automatic pilot so to speak. They are made in accordance with an (however unconsciously) internalized set of principles and criteria we have imbibed from our family of birth, our more extended community as we grow and mature, and the cultural influences we encounter and move in and through along our road to maturity.