Sunday, March 21, 2010

the reasons I believe: looking at the world and being disappointed

No. 1 reason to believe in my series on faith: Looking at the world and being disappointed.

I cannot get over a feeling, when I look around me, that something has gone terribly wrong. I study history, and the history I study is only of the last eighty years or so, and yet there is so much evidence of human evil that it would be enough to persuade me.

Here's what this says to me. SIN MATTERS. I know it's an unfashionable word, but it seems to me to sum up a reality - that human beings know that the Good is preferable, but for some reason the Bad remains a fundamental part of our reality. We can't get it out of our system. I certainly can't get it out of mine. I am part of the problem, and I'm never going to be able to solve it. The evil we commit is not excusable. And the evil we commit may be "small", because most of us have been lucky enough to be placed in contexts in which our actions affect few other people, but it is nonetheless evil.

I could, having come to this conclusion, live miserably and guiltily, try hard to do good, but wallow in guilt whenever I, inevitably, stuff up. I could stop caring, and just live for myself, taking, taking and taking, and making myself the centre of the universe.

Instead, I've found a God who gives hope in the midst of this disappointing, crazy world. He offers forgiveness for sin, because he took human evil seriously enough to send his Son to take the punishment we deserve so fully. He gives me strength to fight my natural selfishness, and he gives me assurance that when I stuff up, he'll take the blame off my shoulders. He gives me encouragement just to keep swimming, as Dorie in Finding Nemo says, struggling along hand-in-hand with the Creator who made this world and who one day will restore it.

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