The intermingled stories of salvation and the great controversy call us to acknowledge a truth about life that is foundational for our understanding of our world and ourselves, and that is: we and our world are fallen, broken, and sinful. Our world is not what it was created to be, and though we still bear the image of the God who created us, we are part of the world’s brokenness.
The sin in our lives is of the same nature as the evil that causes so much pain, oppression, and exploitation all over the world.
Thus, it is right for us to feel the hurt, discomfort, sorrow, and tragedy of the world and of the lives around us. We would have to be robots not to feel the pain of life here. The laments in the book of Psalms, the sorrows of Jeremiah and the other prophets, and the tears and compassion of Jesus demonstrate the appropriateness of this kind of response to the world and its evil, and particularly to those who are so often hurt by that evil.
Read Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, Luke 19:41-42, and John 11:35. What was it in each of these verses that moved Jesus with compassion? How can we have a heart that is softened to the pain around us?
We also need to remember that sin and evil are not just “out there”, or the result of someone else’s brokenness: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8, NIV). In the understanding of the biblical prophets, sin was a tragedy not primarily because someone had broken “the rules”, but because sin has broken the relationship between God and His people, and also because our sin hurts other people. This may take place on a small or large scale, but it is the same evil.
Selfishness, greed, meanness, prejudice, ignorance, and carelessness are at the root of all the world’s evil, injustice, poverty, and oppression. And confessing our sinfulness is a first step in addressing this evil, as well as a first step toward allowing the love of God to take its rightful place in our hearts: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV).
|Look at yourself (but not too closely nor for too long). In what ways are you broken and part of the bigger problem? What’s the only answer, and the only place to look?|