“This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.” (Ecclesiastes 9:3, emphasis added)
I’m fed up with just about everything society has to offer these days. The “good” and the “bad” protests, the public figures, the propaganda, and the dozens of slogans printed onto t-shirts and bumper stickers. I’m sick of it. Not because it’s all I read about, hear about, and am forced to talk about, but because these things are destroying us and we are totally blind to it.
Over the past few months I have listened to a lot of people share their opinions with me about how things should be and how we are to fix them. As I listened to many caring and passionate people spill their hearts out to me, God began to stir something in my heart. As this happened, I simultaneously started a new semester at my seminary by diving into the topic of sin. For three weeks my fellow students and I spent a total of nine hours contemplating the depth of human sin and humanities problem. After these recent experiences I came to the same conclusion that famous author Donald Miller does in his book Blue Like Jazz: I am the problem.
John Piper (the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis) recently spoke on the topic of evil at the 2017 Passion conference. When I listened to his message, he made this bold claim: “preferring anything before God is evil”. And let me tell you, Piper meant anything. Including family, justice, peace, equality, service, on and on and on the list goes. Anything. In today’s world, that statement may make some people angry. What is so wrong with desiring gender equality, human rights, and world peace? There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you desire God more and first (Proverbs 16:3, John 3:30, Philippians 4:13, John 15:5).
Nowadays we find ourselves more and more lost in the religion of humanitarianism instead of following the one true God. We follow and praise public figures who promote ideas that sound good and loving in theory, chase after the achievement of legal provision, or dedicate our lives to the protection of oppressed people groups before we follow, praise, chase after, or dedicate ourselves to Christ. In our passionate pursuit of these things, we soon find ourselves separated from God and love. We become blind to how we contribute to the world’s evil.
1 John 4:8 says “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” If this is true, then
Brothers and sisters, do not be deceived. The only solution to our problems is Christ. No amount of protesting, voting, facebook posts, financial contributions, or fighting will bring about the solution we desperately long for and need. On the contrary, it will eventually deceive us into the foolishness of self-reliance and idolatry; and I fear it already has.
Our actions, beliefs, or ideas that are derived on human thought alone are never going to get us anywhere and they will never please God. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please God”. That means no matter how much money we give away, how many people we help, how popular we are, how many followers we have, how respected we are, how many laws we change, or how many hours we fight for justice, it will never make us right before God.
Since the beginning of time we’ve been attempting to solve the problem that we created. But we can’t — at least not without His help. To get right with God we will have to include God. Living independently of Him will never fix our broken relationship with our creator and His creation because we are full of sin and God is too Holy. Romans 3:10 says that there is not one righteous human. Even the best of us can’t fix anything because we are all tainted and stained by sin; in other words, we all play a cumulative role in the world’s evil.
So why does being right before God even matter? Because our relationship with God or lack thereof is eternal and the things we do on this earth apart from Him are not (Proverbs 12:19, John 14:6). God created this world and established a particular order of how things must be. He established a way that brings about peace and harmony on Earth and we cannot have it without doing things His way. We cannot change the laws of physics anymore than we can change the way God created the Earth to be and how He intended us to live on it with each other.
So if we are the problem, what is the answer? How do we get back on track and finally figure this thing out? How do we help the babies, refugees, women, mothers, children, widows, poor, and the oppressed in this ever increasingly messed up world?! We trust in Jesus and Jesus alone. Jesus is the solution to us. Jesus came to Earth as God in the flesh specifically to restore what we broke. He came and died to make us righteous again and to teach us how to live happy and abundant lives in peace with one another.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” -1 Peter 1:18-20
We follow Jesus, and then we protest. We follow Jesus, and then we vote. We follow Jesus and then we have conversation. We follow Jesus, and then we serve. Jesus first, y’all. We are foolish to do it any other way. Haven’t we proved to ourselves yet that our way is the wrong way? If humans can achieve world peace, what in the world are we waiting for?!?
So what is my advice to both myself and my friends reading this? Schedule in some time to get to know God before you dive headfirst into the crazy world around you. It will be worth it and will lead to greater justice, peace, and joy than we could imagine in our wildest dreams. Keep your eyes on Jesus and relax. I promise that He’s not finished yet.
“For the pagans pursue all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:32-33, emphasis added)