Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Evil Curtains

Who is man? That's the question that was asked at our Bible study tonight. Who is Man? We are going through a series from Focus on the Family called the Truth Project. Before you judge though, please know that I'm not a Focus on the Family supporter but this looked interesting so I thought I'd try it. And tonight's lesson was all about man and evil. Del Tuckett, at least I think that is his name, is the guy in the hour long videos we watch each week and tonight he explained his interpretation of man and evil, with biblical support of course. And he had a ton of great stuff in there, but I did not agree with a lot of it either. So I'll lay out my beef with him and then you can decide which view to take. And I do not claim my view is correct or completely sound either. Read this and then decide for yourself.

To preface this, the following is all my opinion and my take on what Del said. I acknowledge that I could have missed something. I know that I am biased to what I believe, who isn't? But I think, at least, and hope that I can briefly present his arguement fairly in a paragraph or so. Ready?

Del tried to argue that what the Bible claims as truth in this matter is far from what the world is telling us. True. I'm with ya there Del. Often the Truth and the world contradict each other. It's just the way it goes. A fallen world is naturally contradictory in many cases to its Creator, who is coincidentally not fallen. So Del argues, and this is only a piece of his argument that I am going to look at right now, that according to the Truth man's heart is "desperately wicked" because he is fallen. Another way to say desperately wicked is evil. Man's heart is evil. That's what he's saying. Do you believe that? Look at your own heart, now do you really believe that?

And the correct answer would be...HECK YES!! Absolutely man's heart is evil. I mean are you kidding me? Have you seen the destruction and violence that runs rampant in our cultures and throughout our world today? Man sucks. Man can do some pretty disgusting things to not only himself but the creation as well. Man. Is. Evil. Period. No doubt about it. Well done Del. And I am being serious here. Del's right on with this one, I believe.

But he shouldn't have stopped there. Because although we are disgusting, and I believe it is Isaiah that calls our sins dirty tampons, which is gross from what I hear, we have some good in us. We do. And I wish Del would have acknowledged that. But he didn't. So I will. We are pathetic. We are desperate. We are lost. But we are not too far gone. Del also said that because of man's innate, desperate, complete wickedness we are led or drawn to the grace of God. To which I say Amen! But he still missed something. And I think it starte with his low view of man. Maybe this is my idealism coming out too, but I cannot believe we are desperately, completely wicked. I just can't. I need to have at least some hope in man. Here's what I'm thinking.

We all know in Genesis that man was made in God's image. And every scholar on the planet has probably hypothesized and theorized as to what that means. I am not going to do that right now. But fom what you know about what it means to be God's image-bearers, think about what I'm about to say. I have to believe that although we are fallen creatures, the authority and power that comes with being God's image-bearers hasn't completely been pushed out of us to the point where we are absolutely wicked. No way! The innate goodness and perfection and potential that comes with being made in the image of God can't just disappear in one fell swoop. I refuse to believe that. Rather, I see it like this. Since the Fall, sin has been pushing back and holding back this potential we havee inside of us for perfection as God's image-bearers. Think of it as a curtain or window blinds or a veil. What's the purpose of a curtain or blinds or a veil? To cover something up or to keep something hidden, right? But the thing is, from my experience, there is no perfect cutrain, blinds, or veil. Blinds keep most of the sunlight out in the morning but there is still some sunlight that can get through. The same geos with curtains and veils.

With me so far? Ok, good. Now remember sin is the curtain or the blinds or the veil. Sin is holding us back. Sin is disguising our true selves. And let me tell you something, and I want to make this very clear, sin, this curtain, blinds, or veil, is unbreakable by human standards. We cannot rip this curtain or this veil or break these blinds. We can't. It's impossible. For us, that is. And yet I still believe that shades of goodness shine through every now and then without Jesus. Although humans are evil, there is still some good in us. There are millions of good people who aren't Christians. We all know this. There is good that does not come from the church believe it or not. And I think those are the times when, like the blinds, a thin shade of light gets through the sin that so easily entangles to the world. Humans do have the propensity to do good without Jesus even though it may be few and far between.

However, here's the really sweet part. JESUS, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS GOD, CAME TO EARTH. Eventually, He died on a cross to appease God's wrath and forgive our sins and then rose on the third day to be with the Father. And what He accomplished on the cross, for our purposes in this argument, was this: He tore the veil, both in the temple and in our hearts, that held us back. He unleashed our potential as God's image-bearers. But the things is, it all hinges upon Him. If we want to unleash our potential, Jesus needs to be with us. And only then can the kingdom attributes, otherwise known as fruit of the Spirit, be developed and matured in us to CHANGE THE WORLD. But again, it all depends on Jesus. Until we seek Him, our propensity for good is dismal.

Humans are evil. No questions asked there. That fact alone should lead us to the cross of forgiveness and grace. But what I'm saying is that all of creation is waiting and yearning to be liberated. Wait, or was that Paul who said that? Man has so much potential. And some of it seeps through the cracks of sin not by chance, absolutely not actually, but by this simple fact: Not even the gates of hell can hold us back. Sin cannot hold us down. It tries and does a really good job most of the time but there is something deep down in all of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, that can't be put down or held back. So naturally you see glimpses of good in the world. Oh how I wish there were more glimpses. May we Christians be the frontrunners to bring the kingdom here on earth as much as possible!

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