Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Are Things Really That Much Worse?

Let me ask it a different way . . .

Are things really the worse that they've ever been?  Does all of the sin, death and destruction we see in our world show us that things are getting exponentially worse?  Doesn't the UCSB shooting that happened this weekend prove that our world is in the worst shape we've seen?

The simple answer is "no."

Among Christians, whenever we hear about something tragic, our reactions tend to be along the lines of "Things have gotten so bad," or "Boy, has the world changed," or "You never used to hear about stuff like that happening."  

It's that last sentiment that leads me to my conjecture for this article: things are not really "worse" than they've ever been; we just hear about it a lot more than we ever used to, and we as Christians have an appropriate response to the terrible things we see. 

Now, the UCSB shooting was tragic.  I lost my father to violent crime, so I understand the impact of a tragedy like this, and I know exactly what the victims and the surviving family members are going through.  That being said, though, it saddens me to say that, even with tragedies like this, our world is still not any worse than it was.

You might ask: "why on earth would he say something like that?"  Unfortunately, history bears it out, and we need look no further than our own Bible to see it.  I made a departure from our usual format in that I didn't start with my supporting scriptures, because we're going to give several examples from the Bible of terrible things that were happening on planet earth two- to seven-thousand years ago that demonstrate that the world was just as dark place then as it is now:
  • Sodom (Genesis 19:4-11) - The homosexual men of the city tried to take Lot's visitor's captive and rape them (he offered his daughters instead).
  • Lot's Daughters (Genesis 19:30-36) - Lot's daughters get him drunk and sleep with him.
  • Pharoah's death sentence (Exodus 1:15-22) - Pharoah ordered the death of all male Hebrew babies, then included the Egyptian babies when the original plan didn't work.
  • Gibeah, his concubine, and the perverted men (Judges 19:22-30) - This one, you just have to read.
The truth is, we can look at the entire historical record and find tons of examples of depraved human behavior.  Sin has been in our world ever since Adam took his first bite, and it is responsible for every act of man that is contrary to God.  Is there more sin in the world than there used to be?  Not really.  Do we hear more about it now than we used to?  Absolutely.  

Fifty years ago, we got our news in the newspaper, or on the evening news broadcast.  The media was more selective about what it reported and how it was reported (censorship), and there weren't as many opportunities to report it.  Now, we have 24-hour news channels, multiple news broadcasts on non-news stations, the internet, and social media (I actually found out about the USCB shooting because it was a trending topic on Twitter). Also, because the news is largely unfiltered now, we hear a lot of the gritty details that we never got before.  Of course, with any crime of extreme violence or brutality, the more you know, the worse it seems, which is why it would make sense that sin in the world seems worse than it used to be.  That being said, however, our response as Christians is still the same:
Shine the light.
Understand this: it's easy for us to look at our world that is polluted by sin, say "It's never been this bad," and throw up our hands in concession.  The hard fact is that we've been called to be a light in this very same world.  Would there still be sin the world if more people knew Jesus?  Yes.  Would it be as rampant as it is now?  Probably not, if only because fewer people would be lost in sin.  Our responsibility in the face of "increasing" sin is to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:11), and rather than pull back in fear, push forward in faith, knowing that He who is in us is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).  
We have to be the ones to let the world know that there is still hope for a better tomorrow.  We have to be the ones that show that Jesus is the light they are looking for in the darkness.  We have to be the ones to say that we are unafraid of the sin that has a grip on this world, and that love of God has come to set the captives free.  We have to be the ones to boldly declare the mysteries of the Gospel.  It is then, and only then, that we will see the improvement in our world that we long for.   That's why we must focus on making things better, rather than how much worse they have become.

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