by Alan Bailey
Do you sometimes despair of observing the violence, the cheating, the shocking lack of respect for life, in short, the criminality, that thrives and never looks like diminishing? On news media, we constantly see ‘how the other half lives’ as the common cliché goes.
No doubt there is a line that divides societies. Not in half necessarily, but into two. The larger section cares about the law, tries to live decently and uprightly, and deplores the actions of those in the other sector who behave very differently. An underlying perception is ‘If only the bad people would change, we would have a peaceful, perhaps almost perfect society’.
Are we seeing an illusion?
This view of the world seems obvious and undeniable. But in reality, it is very limited and inaccurate.
Years ago, a newspaper in England posed the question of what is wrong with the world. Readers were invited to send in their suggestions. One answer was: ‘What is wrong with the world? I am. Yours sincerely, G K Chesterton.’
Another famous author, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, said that the line dividing good and evil runs through the centre of every human heart. Clear discernment shows that the tendency to do wrong, to live selfishly, and to cause unhappiness is found in us all.
In how many, outwardly decent homes, is there hurt and grief through verbal abuse? How many homes hide ruptured relationships and poor parenting?
The place where love should flourish best of all, the family, is so often a scene of tension and tears, minds being permanently damaged. That is only the beginning.
A higher view
The view of the world that God has is comprehensive and complete in every detail. Thus, the Bible gives a portrait of human nature that leaves us without defence. We are guilty as charged as the Bible says; “All have sinned and come short of the glory [the faultless nature] of God’ (Romans 3:23).
At its most basic level, sin exists through our rejection and neglect of God. How many respectable people give no thought to God and His rule, to His right to our honour, respect and worship?
Every day, people go about their lives with no reference to the Almighty, seemingly unaware that they are flouting His law and rebelling against His sovereignty. Somehow, we fail to see that this has any importance. God can mind His own business as I mind mine, we think. However, there are inevitably consequences to this attitude .
Imagine a person going through the supermarket, tossing articles into the trolley with reckless abandon, just as if all was free for the taking, then showing shock and horror when confronted at the check-out with the amount owing.
Men and women are just like that, living as if there were no day of reckoning, no judgment, and no price to pay. We deceive ourselves if we live in a self-created and comfortable security. If we could but get a glimpse of God’s perfect nature our attitude would change.
This newspaper is all about good news. Against the backdrop of our great need, the Bible reveals the love of God which provides a way for us to be forgiven, made clean, and made right in His sight. At the centre of His plan is a cross on which Jesus, the perfect Son of God, died.
God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5, verse 21). He took my sin, paid for it, and gave me His goodness. An exchange if you like.
So now, the division into two of our societies is not the good and the bad people, but those who are forgiven and those who aren’t. Think about it.