The Myth of Hopelessness

What do you find to be the most relevant passage in the Bible for our world today? I guess that all depends on where you focus your eyes. We are all too often busy living as a modern-day Narcissus. Not in that sense of presuming our beauty to overwhelm every other creature in the valley, but in living as men and women more interested in gazing at the destination of our own two feet than the people next to us. We are perhaps more interested in our next task, or event, or meal, or trinket, or whatever have you. We live in a narcissistic age.

Should Christians be narcissists? Should Christians merely echo the precise historical moment they find themselves in? The Apostle Paul writes “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV) What could that possibly mean?

Paul is not calling us to simply offer some generic prayers. He is calling us to grow in looking, acting, speaking, thinking, like the Lord Jesus Christ. Christianity is not behavioral psychology draped in robes or suits depending on your liturgical proclivities. Nor is Christianity one self-help guide amongst many equally useful guides. Christianity is the proclamation of God’s saving work for rebellious sinners, by means of the life and death of His eternal Son, Jesus Christ. The Gospel is not about us but Him. It is about His story, and His glory, and His work amongst the spiritually dead (that’s us by the way).

And so as we return to the reality of our narcissistic age, drunk on the next new fashionable distraction, Biblical Christianity (as opposed to churches indistinguishable from the culture) confronts us with the most relevant passage of our historical moment. It isn’t about community. It isn’t about alms. It isn’t about justice. All of these are indeed leaves on the tree of Christianity, but are not the trunk itself. Instead we are drawn to the mystery of what happens when God enters into a sinner’s heart and revives them: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ESV)

The deepest need of the human heart today is this transformative work of Christ. We are all sinners. We are all broken, by the sins of others, and our own sinful acts of foolishness. But contrary to the false gospels provided by so many outside of the church today, your sins don’t get to define you, nor your trauma, nor your circumstances. You are not bound in hopelessness because of your failures. There is lie at root in our world today that says that you are past redemption, or that your life is meaningless, or that you are cursed to never move beyond your present situation or outgrow your family’s failures.

Such an anti-gospel creates a false perspective in our world. It is as if we have binoculars glued to our eyes, and they’ve been fastened backwards; everything they see is off. There are some who presume their justice and righteousness to be of a higher standard than God’s. We find that they say things like “If I entered a church it would burn down” or “God might strike me down if I entered that church.” All that such statements prove is a woeful ignorance of God’s love, righteousness and ability. If God wishes to strike you dead He will do it when He pleases, where He pleases, as He pleases, and there’s not a thing you can do about it.

But God has not done that. You’re still reading, aren’t you? God has not opened the pits beneath our feet to devour us, though we have rebelled against Him. Instead, He’s sent men and women, boys and girls, to share His promise of new life, and forgiveness through His Son. You can be made new today through faith in Christ. A new start is offered, will you take it? Will you remember it? Will you cherish it and see God transform you from the inside out and teach you how to see Him and your world rightly.

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