By Ian McCaulley
These days, whenever one looks at the national and global news, the situation looks extremely dire. A brief perusal of today’s headlines will yield a seemingly endless torrent of violence, depravity and suffering. In other words, it’s normal to hear Barry McGuire while scrolling through your news feed. The question of many today is: why? Why is everything broken/blowing up? Why are we on the eve of destruction? Many will point to cultural, social, geopolitical, and other problems, but those aren’t the true cause. We can blame it on the wrong people in power, oppression, and people just being jerks to each other, but the problem runs deeper even than a few ornery folks ruining it for the rest of us. According to the Bible the true source of evil in the world is not any of the following people/groups:
- Donald Trump (If this causes your hair to combust with indignation, you have a problem)
- Barack Obama (If this causes your hair to combust with indignation, you have a problem)
- Vladimir Putin
- Democrats (They’re sure not helping, though)
- “The 1%” (The Socialist boogeyman)
- The Jews (Just throwing it out there)
- White People
- Black People
- (Person/group you particularly dislike here)
Nope, none of those listed above are the ultimate cause of the catastrophic state of our world. (Not even Trump, now go extinguish your hair where applicable.) The root cause of all of the world’s problems is our sinful nature. Racism, murder, extortion, the vast panoply of social ills all stem, ultimately, from the sinful hearts of sinful people. James explains this in James 4:1-3:
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
In context, he’s talking about people in the church. Ouch. If the saints, who are constantly being made holy by the work of the Spirit, still have this problem, can we really expect the unregenerate masses to do better? Of course not, but there’s one more step. The pleasures James mentions originate in the heart, which we would call the mind in today’s parlance, and as Jeremiah says:
The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
If we think about it, every sinful action started in someone’s (sinful) heart. Every school shooter has, before committing the crime, thought about it and decided to do it. They could have chosen to do otherwise, but they didn’t. Every thief has made the decision to steal, whether because they want something, or just for the thrill of it. Sometimes these decisions snowball to affect those who did no wrong. A group of resentful Serbians plot an assassination to break away from Austria-Hungary. Mere months later, British and German soldiers are slaughtering each other in western France. The soldiers didn’t do anything to start World War I, but they died nonetheless. This is what the vast, seemingly incomprehensible mess of sin and evil in the world boils down to. People sinning against each other, heedless of the consequences. And sin has collateral damage.
This is why the world is so broken. People sin; and the wages of sin is death. Murder, racism, hatred, theft, and the whole host of human ills trace their source back to the sin that corrupts the hearts of every member of the human race, as anyone who has read Romans 3:23 knows.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Hatred, greed, exploitation and conflict are all in our nature. A sad reality, but it is the truth. That said, be of good cheer; there is a solution (if you’ve read Romans, you can guess what it is), and in my next article, we’ll talk about it.