If there is one tenant of Christianity that should be seemingly easier to accept than others, it’s sin. We’ve all experienced it in the tugging of our hearts and the tears that flow when we encounter the death of a loved one or feel the anger over the unfairness of a birth defect or the pain of sickness. Sin is more than just a choice, it’s a state of being. It’s our present state of being. Jesus died on the cross for us and that took away the punishment of our sinful deeds and empowers us to make better choices through the Holy Spirit, but the reality is we still live in an environment where sin permeates everything; genetics, weather patterns, thoughts, and no matter where we look in our own environment we cannot find a cure.
Out of desperateness we long for anything that’s less chaotic than what were used to. For example, I recently came across a research study touting that ‘today’s teens are the best-behaved generation on record’ because they drink less smoke less and get pregnant less. Don’t get me wrong, these are all great things and I’m glad the tide is turning but to set this as the highest achievement possible would be settling. Preventing bad behavior among adolescents is one goal but instilling fortitude is a better one. Yet, settling is exactly what we do.
It’s easy for us to settle for any hint of goodness because we find ourselves in a world where we’ve come to expect the worst.
There was a terrible news story this morning of another school shooting, the 74th since the Newtown Elementary School shooting. Shepard Smith while reporting on a scene of backpacks taken from the school and piled into the street to be sniffed by bomb-sniffing police dogs, commented “We have seen so many of these, we know the routines the officers go through.” With this being the 74th incident in just a little over two years, many have gotten to the point where 2 or 3 shootings a year would be considered to be a ‘relief’. I can almost hear the news report ‘It’s been a good year as far as school shootings go, there were only 3 this year.’ We have gone from a culture ill-prepared to deal with school shootings to each and every school having a concise plan of action. We think being prepared for these types of events is a good thing but in reality it’s a result of the fall and not the way things where meant to be.
Occasionally we are fortunate enough to see a hint of true love in a dedicated spouse or the forgiveness of a friend.
A key ingredient is to be open for these instances to appear in unexpected ways. Disney has recently been helping our culture to do this. In the movie Frozen and more recently in the Disney movie Maleficent, ‘true love’ is needed to end curses put on two princesses. Disney has taken this narrow view, one they have promoted for so long themselves and our culture has hopelessly bought into (There are many princesses in our culture out there looking for the same thing; to end the curse inside their spirit and many of them look for the cure in a prince charming.) and expanded it to include acts of true love carried out by a committed sister or a repentant foe. This is a much better message for our culture but just like any hints of true love we might see in this world, they still fall short of what was meant to be.
The problem is that many of us forget just how short they fall from what is really good. We end up focusing on good short-term circumstances when God is about everlasting goodness. And in this process we equate our narrow version of good as being His version of good.
Think about it; I made a few extra bucks today so God is good, I got a new job so God is good, my friend didn’t die of cancer so God is good. Indeed, these are good things in the immediate but to equate them with God’s goodness would be making God out to be pretty small
We settle when we keep God as being only as good as our version of good.
We believe God is good enough to forgive and erase our sins when the truth is His grace abounds (see Romans 5:20). We settle for a life less frightening when God wants us to have life and life abundantly (John 10:10) We settle for telling our neighbors about Jesus when God wants us to go to all the nations (Matthew 28:19). God’s version of good is better and bigger than ours.
So join me and pray fervently that school shootings will be reduced and the sick healed but pray even more that Jesus will come back and fix our world. God isn’t satisfied with a decrease in bad and an increase in good. No, his position is complete restoration. Laws banning guns aren’t the answer to obtain the peace we are looking for deep in our souls. Think bigger. We need Jesus to come back and set things right and we shouldn’t settle for anything less. God is good all the time and all the time God is good and even better than our version of good.