Genesis 3 describes the moment where Adam and Eve brought sin into the world. Because of this sin, God removed humanity from His presence and let the curse of what they had done fall on them. Where before we were completely connected to God’s love, sin brought separation, struggle, and pain. It is easy for anyone to see the many problems of this world brought by sin, but no one can fix these problems on their own. God’s promise to us in Christ is that he will fix everything that is wrong, and His gift to us today is that the more we embrace this promise, the more we can be a part of the promise and see things fixed through how we follow God.
The more I learn about history and watch what is going on in the world, the more I see that people are always short-sighted. Our limited perspective, short lives, and concern for our own well-being leads us to be completely focused on ourselves and the people around us. We are tribalistic, self-preserving, and self-indulging to the core—the very image of what sin represents. However, when we have a private moment to ourselves, we may think of how we wish the world could be. Without God these are daydreams, but with God we can have hope they will come to pass.
On our own, the best that society can do to fix a problem is to use a fear of consequences to reduce cruelty. There is no limit to the terrible things that people will do if they do not think they will have to pay the consequences, whether it is abusing someone that cannot hurt them back, or starting an unjust war that they expect to win. The most that we have been able to do to stop these things are to threaten consequences, whether discovery, justice, or defeat.
While human oversight, transparency, deterrence, and justice may improve the world, they do not improve our human nature. They only place limits on our ability to do wrong. The U.S. and Russia were bitter enemies for almost fifty years but they never started a third World War—this was not because people became inherently better, but because of the threat of nuclear weapons. Both knew that no matter how big or skilled their armies were, their entire country would be destroyed if they tried to attack the other. As the Hollywood sexual abuse scandals come to light, it is clear that powerful people feel that they are entitled to abuse others who cannot not fight back or who need their favor to succeed in their career. Thanks to the bravery of the abused who are coming forward it is hopeful that there will be more oversight and transparency to fight this abuse in the future, but fear of getting caught does not make evil men into good men.
Only God has the power to truly fix us and the world, and His gift to us is not only the promise of salvation in Christ, but the chance to take part in fixing the world during our own lives. Coming closer to God gives us a glimpse into His eternal perspective and love that can inspire us and guide us to being a part of God’s solution to the world’s problems. Jesus gave radical directions to his disciples in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)—where the Jews had mostly kept to themselves during the Old Testament, Jesus told his very first followers to do exactly the opposite—not to be holy hermits, but to go out into the world and use Christ’s authority to make disciples of all nations. The disciples were supposed to go join another group of people, learn how they live, learn how to serve them, and to be an example of Christ’s love to them—ideas completely alien to our own tribal natures. Several titles of books in the New Testament read as a list of the places where Jesus’ faithful disciples traveled and accomplished incredible things with God’s strength, reaching such distant people as the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians.
While we cannot fix everything in the world on our own, we can take hold of the Great Commission and join with God as he fixes some small part of the world through us. Whenever there is some injustice that people may accept as just the way things are, God gives us the imagination and the strength to do something about it. I grew up in California, and while many there speak disapprovingly of the growing Latino population, my home church takes a trip to Tijuana, Mexico every year to build homes and help victims of natural disasters, an encouraging and direct expression of love between communities. My wife and I love sponsoring a child through the Compassion ministry—we get the chance to support and encourage a young girl in Ghana, and we are so enriched by what we learn from her life and by the hopes we have for her. It is unlikely that I would have thought about how to help these faraway people and come up with these kind ideas on my own—it is so important that we hold close to God to see beyond our own needs and to find any small place where we can bring God’s healing love.
David is a member of Skyline and serves in Guest Services. He and his wife Joy live in Gaithersburg, MD and will gladly ford the mighty Potomac River to come and see you. He loves history and science fiction equally, and enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling. He hopes to better develop his relationship with God and better grow a spirit of service.