“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” These first lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities were the introduction to my speech at high school graduation a long time ago. I realize now that every generation seems to think things were much better years ago. The truth is no generation gets it all right; life just somehow appears better in hindsight. Currently there is much concern about what is going on in our world and in our culture. And I would agree there are a lot of shifts and many are not good. Terrorism is growing; innocent people are being killed and fear is escalating. Character and integrity are not held in honor; pressure to tolerate unacceptable behavior is forced upon people; speaking up for good and moral choices is often frowned upon. What’s wrong in our world? How did we get here? What are we to do in times like these?
First let me suggest that we should not be so surprised. All that we see today and what other generations have moaned over is represented and forecast in the Bible. I continue to be amazed at the timeless nature of God’s Word. When sin entered our world, trouble began, and sin still trips us up today.
Deceit: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…” (Jeremiah 17:9) Hearts were deceitful in Bible times as well as today.
Pride: Referring to King Uzziah of Judah, we read, “as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper….But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.” (2 Chronicles 26) Pride and arrogance and an “I don’t need God” approach to life is nothing new.
Idolatry: One of the ten commandments is, “thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Every time people have chosen money, prestige, power, other people over God Almighty, the results have been disappointing, if not disastrous.
Sexual Sins: These are rampant now and, quite frankly, have been for centuries. There are many varieties of sexual sins. First Corinthians 6:18 states, “Flee from sexual immorality.” That verse would not have been necessary without sexual sin being a problem.
So what do we do in times like these? A book I read years ago is entitled The Heart of The Problem. Author Dr. Henry Brandt was a respected psychologist, counselor, and educator. His premise was quite simple – the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart — sin. When a person quits blaming problems, addictions, and bad choices on circumstances and other people; and he/she accepts sin as the root of the problem, freedom is not far away. Because, as Brandt affirms, there is a solution for sin!
Heart of the problem is problem of the heart
The Bible affirms that we are all sinners – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) That’s all of us, none can claim to be sinless.
The good news, also known as The Gospel, is God’s provision for our sin. He sent Jesus to live and to die to pay the price for our sin so we could be accepted as righteous before God. The life Jesus lived is recorded in history; the fact of his death and resurrection is also unquestionably documented. He was not one of many good teachers or prophets; He was and is the Son of God and He offers freedom from sin to E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. It is a free gift – seems too good to be true, and yet it is true.
We do not have to remain trapped by sin and its consequences. And we do not have to live in fear and discouragement regarding the state of our world and culture. We can have hope and joy and peace, in spite of times that seem desperate. My opinion is not worth much, but when asked about all the hot topics, my best answer is, “let’s see what God says in His word.” It is with great confidence we can stand on His word and obey His commands. But nobody said that would be easy. People will not always like or agree with the truths in the Bible; God’s word convicts, redeems, teaches, and leads us into righteousness. I am convinced that God is for us and He is for our good.
God is for us and He is for our good.
As a sinner saved by God’s grace, it is my duty and privilege to live in a way that honors Him. That means I should love others extravagantly, give my time and gifts and resources to help people in need, and share the good news of Jesus with a world that desperately needs what He offers.
Focusing on God and His love for this world changes us and infuses us with His power. There is no time for getting caught up in arguments and controversy; our time is best spent seeking God and allowing Him to use us in His plan for our world.
An old hymn says, “In Times Like These, You Need a Savior.” Yes. We. Do.