3 It seems so wrong that everyone under the sun suffers the same fate. Already twisted by evil, people choose their own mad course, for they have no hope.Proverbs 9.3, NLT
This verse from Proverbs—cited from the NLT which is a paraphrase of the original Hebrew, but reflects its intention nevertheless—summarizes the human condition perfectly. In the biblical context the human condition refers to the state of humanity estranged and alienated from God our Father, the Author of all life. With God there is perfect health and happiness, the likes of which none of us have ever seen or experienced since humans rebelled against God in paradise (Genesis 3; cp. Genesis 2.8-25). Our human condition is often characterized by sickness, rancor, strife, suffering, injustice, sorrow, disease, madness, unhinged behavior and so much more—evidence of the reality of Evil and Sin at work in humans. By the grace of God not all things are bad of course, but there is much to be desired in this world and our lives, a good and beautiful world despoiled by the power of Sin and Evil and laboring under the curse of its Creator because of human sin and rebellion. Name me an evil in this world and I will usually point you to the human condition that results from our alienation and estrangement from God our Father.
In the passage above, the old Teacher cuts right to the chase about our plight. How often we humans in our foolishness and folly seek human-made solutions to our problems, solutions that often make our plight worse than when we started. Not all man-made solutions are bad, of course, but when we lose our bearings because we reject the laws of God our Creator (thereby rejecting God) and the workings of his created order, we often make things much, much worse. Consider, for example the the whole LGBT movement, especially transgenderism. We see people, twisted by evil and unhappy with who they are and/or their lot in life, i.e., people with no hope, choose a mad course and try to alter the created order. Men can be women and vice versa we are told. We can be whoever or whatever we desire because we are the only reality. Good luck with that. Many of these poor souls seek permanent, life- and body-altering solutions to their problems in a futile effort to find meaning and happiness, all the while oblivious to the reality that only a real relationship with the one true and real God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, can produce the happiness and fulfillment they desperately seek in their futile effort to “be themselves.” It truly makes the heart sad. They really are sheep without a real Shepherd, Jesus, the only One who has the power to heal them.
To make matters worse many of these poor souls rage at those who point out the folly of their ways and madness, accusing their critics of hatred/bigotry (or worse). No one likes to be reminded of their foolishness; I get that. But if we are truly to love all people regardless of their condition we must try to warn them that their path is leading them to a life of misery in this mortal life and eternal destruction in the world to come, all the while offering them a better solution, which is a real relationship with Christ. As I have argued elsewhere, that’s not hate but love.
We can also see the madness about which the old Teacher speaks played out in the folly of the current social justice movement. To be clear, God demands true justice for all people, not just some, and Christians should be the first to advocate for reform that leads to real justice, a justice based on the laws of God and the created order. But being twisted by evil, we see folks with no hope (because they have no relationship with God) advocate for a false brand of justice that encourages evildoers to make the most of their evil and madness, all in the name of “justice.” The result? A breakdown of the rule of law and chaos, the very essence of Sin, and a very unjust world where wrong is encouraged, evildoers are rewarded, and righteousness based on God’s good laws is punished. Equally amazing is the fact that advocates for this kind of false justice refuse to acknowledge the folly of their ways, even in the face of compelling evidence. The old Teacher would surely understand.
And the above examples are not the only ones I could cite. No one is going to find true meaning and happiness in money, in toys, in power, in sexual exploits, in fame, in hedonism, in human-developed political/social/economic systems, or anything else of this world because nothing in this world is permanent, good and beautiful as things sometimes are and can be. Simply put, we were created to be wise stewards who watch over God’s good creation on God’s behalf, not to develop a relationship with the world to replace our right relationship with God our Father.
Neither are Christians immune to this evil because the old Teacher includes everyone in his observation above. We see this when Christians rail against the brave new world being imposed on us by the woke. I am not talking about speaking the truth in love and naming evil and wrong for what they are and condemning such. I am talking about Christian and/or conservative commentators who use the weapons being aimed at them by their enemies: vitriol, rancor, half-truths, lies, snark, anger, tit-for-tat, and the rest.
But the war against Evil is not won by using the weapons of the Evil One and his minions. No, there is a better way as seen in this example from the Acts of the Apostles.
23 As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. 24 When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— 25 you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying,
‘Why were the nations so angry?
Why did they waste their time with futile plans?
26 The kings of the earth prepared for battle;
the rulers gathered together
against the Lord
and against his Messiah.’
27 “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. 28 But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. 29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.Acts 4.23-31
The context for this scene is clear. The nascent Christian faith and Christ’s followers were under attack by a variety of enemies, enemies bent on destroying those who followed Christ and their saving message. What did the early Church do in response? Did they resort to name-calling? Did the cower in fear? Did they let their enemies silence them? Did they lose their faith? Did they resort to name-calling and ad hominem like their opponents? No, they gathered together in prayer and they prayed for BOLDNESS to preach the gospel faithfully! They knew they had the best solution around to heal the world’s sin-sickness! They also prayed for God’s power to accompany their proclamation to show an unbelieving world that the new Christian faith and teaching were grounded in a new reality, the reality of God’s in-breaking kingdom brought about by the Death and Resurrection of Christ. They ignored their enemies’ threats, focusing instead on proclaiming Christ and living out their faith in him in the power of God the Holy Spirit!
Where is that same prayer and boldness today from Christ’s people? I can’t speak for anyone else but I am not seeing much of it. Too often we have let ourselves be cow-towed by our enemies and I suspect this has happened in part because many Christians today really don’t believe in the power and efficacy of Christ’s Death and Resurrection the way his first followers did, a story for a different day and post.
Here then is the solution to problems involved with our human condition. We must steep ourselves in Scripture and relearn our story and take it to heart, unbelievable as it can seem at times. We must really think and believe that we have the best story and game around! We must believe that God really is in charge and loves the world and us so much that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to heal our sin-sickness! Christ really did die for us sinners out of God’s love for us and to satisfy God’s righteous anger against human sin and the evil it produces. God really did raise Christ from the dead to usher in the beginning of God’s new world, the new heavens and earth, a world where the human condition is restored to its original intended goodness, health, and vitality. This is the future for anyone who puts their hope and trust in God through Christ and who rejects merely human solutions for our problems. We are to give our lives to God in prayer and ask the Father to intervene on our behalf for the healing of the nations, us included. And we are to avail ourselves to the power of God working in everything through the Holy Spirit to bring to fruition the healing and redemption of God’s world and its creatures, especially us image-bearers.
We can do none of the above if we don’t first know our own Story and are convinced that it is Real and True. Even then, as the old Teacher points out elsewhere (see, e.g., Ecclesiastes 9.1-2), we are not immune from our own hurt and failures and the vicissitudes of life. What our faith and knowledge of the power of our Story do give us is a hope and a future, which in turn gives us confidence to live in the love and power of God to work his will in and through our lives to accomplish his good purposes, and we must do all this together as God’s people. As Christ reminds us, he came to bring the sword, i.e., his Word and Presence will always cause division and conflict in the world because of the reality of Evil and evil-doers who hate him and his Father (see, e.g., Matthew 10.32-42), and so we will always have enemies because we share in our Lord’s life and death. But we are also promised that we will have God’s power and grace which are more than sufficient for the battle, which has already been won for us, even if it costs us our mortal life. Let those who believe this Promise take up the fight with courage, humility, and hope, and fight the good fight.
For those with ears to hear, listen and understand.