Thursday, November 03, 2011

What's Wrong?

Almost anyone who has any power of observation at all would have to admit that things in the world don't seem to be going the way we think they should. Whether it's a tsunami in Japan or drug wars in Mexico or people starving in Somalia, or arguments and fights within a family, events seem to fall far short of the ideal that we can imagine. Why do we imagine things such as peace, safety and love? Why does virtually everyone idolize the good, and yet there is so much evil? Sometimes when my wife and I are out for a walk on a beautiful day, we wonder why anyone in any of the homes around us would be fighting or arguing on such a beautiful day. Why can't we all just get along?

One answer is, “That's just the way it is. Get used to it.” I don't know about you, but that answer does not satisfy me. If all of this “bad” stuff is just imbedded in nature, why do we have the idea that there is a “better”?

I think the Bible has the best answer that I've seen anywhere. God says that he originally created the world in a state of goodness and harmony. Into that world came sin in the form of selfish rebellion against the creator. A man, made in the image of God, decided that he had found a better way to achieve happiness rather than the way God had given him. In doing so he brought God's curse on us as a race of people. What's more, he brought a curse upon the creation itself.

Someone may say, “You don't really believe that myth, do you?” I must admit that I do. No other explanation I have found explains why we have a sense of good and justice and order at the time that there is so much evil, injustice and chaos both within the human race and in nature.

The Bible says that man knows that there is a God. The fact that he is eternal in power and that he has all the characteristics of deity is known to all, but we suppress it. (Romans 1:18-20) We suppress it by not glorifying or giving the honor to God that he is due. In addition we are not thankful for what he has given us. Paul the Apostle told the Athenians that God give us life and breath and everything else we have. (Acts 17:25) Our basic error is to think that we can provide everything for ourselves. We don't need God. We can do things our way. That is the attitude that brought us the curse in the first place.

Having been created in the image of God, we have amazing capabilities. Look at all of the inventions we have come up with for making life better and our work easier. We have come to believe that we can solve every problem there is if we just trust in ourselves. That philosophy has been around for a long time. How are we doing so far? Have we solved the problem of war, famine, tsunamis, or the common cold?

God says that our core problem is rebellion against him. We do not want to give him glory. We do not want to worship him as God, we do not want to retain God in our knowledge. (Romans 1:20-32) This passage in Romans tells us that because of our defiance, God gives us up to do the things we want to do. He basically says, “Alright, then, do it your way and see what happens!” The results are disastrous.

The Bible tells us that God is in the process of changing people. Jesus told Nicodemus that in order to see the kingdom of God it was necessary to be born again. Jesus told him that everyone who believes in Jesus, that is those who trust him with their souls, will not perish but will have everlasting life. Those who do not believe are still under the judgment of God. (John 3) Eventually even the curse on creation will be removed. At that point, all wrongs will be righted and perfect justice will prevail.

This is not just a pie-in-the-sky hope. This is what God has promised. Some people suggest that such a hope in a future righting of wrongs keeps us from doing what we should be doing now. That may be the case for some people, but Jesus taught that we should put his principles into action in this world here and now. We should love our wife and family, rather than abuse them or forsake them. We should love our neighbor the same way we love ourselves rather than look for ways to cheat them or to allow them to suffer. He told us be content with what we have rather than being greedy to always have more, spending our life complaining about what we don't have that other people may have. He told us not to proudly flaunt our charity, giving or prayers. It sounds to me like if we would trust Jesus with our eternal destiny and put his teaching into practice in our daily lives, the world would be a better place now while we wait for the final reconciliation of all things.

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