May 21, 2007

Bad News

Bad news?’ you ask. ‘I thought Christianity was supposed to offer good news!’ Of course it does…and don’t worry, we’ll get there. But before a life boat appears very useful to us, we have to realize that we have fallen overboard. And before the good news will have the poignancy that it ought, we have to hear the bad news. And there is bad news…

The Bible says that all human beings are, by nature, sinners (Romans 3.10-11). And our experience bears this out. Each of us has observed the fact that even small children (who seem hardly know right from wrong) figure out quite quickly how to defy mommy and daddy! No one has to teach them how to throw a fit, or hit their brother, or lie about it when they get caught. So, to say that human beings are naturally good not only denies the Bible, but our common human experience. We are born selfish. We are born knowing how to sin…and wanting to sin. And, as adults, these innate qualities continue to cling to us like filthy axle-grease. We still pitch fits (perhaps more sophisticatedly, but fits nonetheless!) when we do not get what we want. In our actions, and in the secret places of our minds, every one of us lives a life in defiance, sometimes of the laws of the land, and other times of the laws of our own conscience. All of us find ourselves, at times, deliberately doing that which we know is plain wrong. Why? Because we’re born sinners!

But the major problem comes when we realize that we are not simply sinning against the laws of the land or the laws of our own consciences…but against the laws of God! St. Paul described the human condition like this: Even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks (Romans 1.21). That’s pretty accurate isn’t it? All of us know that there is a God out there (Romans 1.20). We see Him evidenced in the created order. And our moral consciences also inform us that there is a God who has set certain moral principles in place for all his creatures (everyone knows, innately, that certain things are right, and others wrong…and that knowledge is from God). Yet each of us ignores, dishonors, and outright disobeys what we know of this God. Examine your own heart and you will find this is true.

God’s response to such defiance? The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth (Romans 1.18). We suppress the truth, Paul says. We deliberately ignore God, His commands, and His authority. We have thumbed our nose at our Creator! And God has, therefore, shut the door on relationship with us, and is preparing eternal punishment for His rebellious creatures!

That is the bad news. It is awful news! We are sinners and there is, literally, hell to pay. But once we have come to terms with our rebellion, we are candidates to hear and love the good news…namely that “Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3.18). Have you come to believe the good news? Have you let Christ bring you to God?

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