Were you among the shocked and awed when you heard about Miley Cyrus’ depraved strut around the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards? Do you scratch your head when you read about Egypt, Syria, North Korea, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.? Are you heartbroken over the state of affairs in our own country–the still staggering economy, the political gridlock, the lack of leadership at all levels?
Teachers are supposed to teach kids, not sleep with them. Mayors are supposed to protect residents, not harass them. Parents are supposed to love their children, not abandon them. People are supposed to love one another, not ignore each other.
Taken individually, these issues are complicated and disconcerting. Add them all up and take them on the whole, and there’s a great deal of panic that is liable to ensue. It’s overwhelming. We’ve declared war on everything–drugs, terror, gun violence, sex trafficking, and more. What else can we do? We can’t sit back and let this happen! We’ve got to do something.
Some carry our faith as our rallying cry. To be sure, as a Christ-follower I believe that we should seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. We should not do nothing. Others have no faith, but still bemoan the state of the world. It seems like we’re all in the same boat. Or should I say, we’re all in the same sinking ship.
Just a quick scan of today’s headlines are enough to wear anyone out:
- The U.S. is likely to strike Syria because of their alleged use of chemical weapons
- Investment bankers are being arrested because of greed and deceit
- The VMA’s happened
- An 8 year old shot his grandma
- MLB stars admit to steroids
- Coastal cities are going to be swallowed up by sea level rises
- Nanny drives drunk to pick up kids at school
- Missing teen’s body found in Oregon
- Taliban kills a dozen
The answer, of course, is that the world is coming to it’s logical conclusion.
Maybe you were taught that you can make the world a better place, that there’s hope in this world for a peace, love, and happiness. Those make for great bumper stickers. They make for awful theology. We should not be shocked or awed by the evil that exists in our society, in whatever form it presents itself. Whether socially acceptable or not, all manner of evil is present and will continue to be present. As my dad–a folksy theologian in his own right–used to say, “It’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.”
According to the Scriptures, this world is caught in a self-perpetuating cycle of raunchiness. Granted, immorality is not new. Depravity was just as present 2,000 years ago as it is today. We may be able to broadcast our sins faster and to a wider audience, but we got started at this disgusting routine a long time ago. But the Scripture is clear that this destructive course will continue. It will not end. Not on this side of heaven.
If you’re wondering why there’s so much war and manipulation and selfishness and evil in this world, it’s because that’s what happens when you have a bunch of manipulative, selfish, evil people on a floating rock in the sky, each trying to figure themselves out apart from Jesus. People die instead of live. People feel pain instead of peace. People hurt instead of heal. Wholesome Disney stars turn out to be nasty pop icons. Miley wasn’t the first. She won’t be the last. Neither will Syria be the last civil war. It’s pretty depressing when you think about it.
But it should not be surprising. I mean, what do you expect? We are all on a sinking ship. It’s going down fast. We’re taking on scum-filled water at an alarming rate and eventually we will choke on our own ignorant, permissive filth.
Seems pretty hopeless, don’t you agree? And hopelessness leads us to more mind- and soul-numbing behavior. Eat, drink, and be merry! Twerk, shack up, drink up, light up, power up, move up, whatever it takes. Just don’t stop moving, or you might be moved to despair. Fill your lives with stuff, noise, and stuff to complain about. Maybe then you’ll feel apart from it all.
But not even that works.
The only thing that works is to abandon ship. Instead of hoping in this world–which everyone will agree is bound to disappoint–hope in something else instead.
Ephesians 2:12-13, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (emphasis is mine)
If there’s no hope in this world, then our only shot is to hope in something else. It’s not that God’s Kingdom isn’t meant to make this world better. It’s just that this world isn’t the point.
1 Corinthians 15:19 says, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
Our hope must be placed in something and Someone else:
Titus 2:11-13 tells us exactly what:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Everything we need to know is outlined in those verses:
- This world is crooked, awful place. That isn’t going to change.
- We should love good and hate evil, but understand that this world will still be a crooked, awful place.
- Our blessed hope is the appearance of our Great God and Savior, Jesus. We belong to Him, and He alone can rescue us from our own wretched mess.
What’s the world coming to? The bad news is the world is coming to an atrocious, predictable demise. The good news is that the world is coming to a face-to-face meeting with it’s Creator and Savior. Each of us can be rescued from the pit of sin. While the fate of the world apart from Christ is certain, so too is the fate of those who belong to Him.
When the world goes down in flames, we can rise in victory. Because of Jesus.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.