None of Us Is Good
I couldn’t help myself.
There are so many different situations which we attempt to explain using this excuse. What we’re trying to say is that—given the circumstances—we are totally justified in whatever it is that we were doing. And perhaps if you had been there, you wouldn’t have been able to help yourself, either. “Like moths to a flame,” is how the poets among us put it.
The “course of this world” (Eph. 2:2) exerts a kind of you-can’t-help-yourself attraction. The world’s powerful spiritual gravity pulls us along its course. And when we were dead in the trespasses and sins in which we once walked, we followed the course of this world. Naturally, that is, by our sin nature, we followed the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.
...we followed the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.
Sound scary? It is worse than scary. The writer of Ecclesiastes laments:
“Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun” (Eccles. 4:1–3).
Powerful oppressors have their way with those who dwell on the earth. No one comforts the weeping victims. It seems better to be dead than to be alive. No, it seems better than to have never been born than to see “the evil deeds that are done under the sun.” However gilded and comfortable our tombs may have seemed, this describes the real horror of life in a world that is at enmity with God. Life is dominated by sin and finds its determination in sin. Every single person has turned aside from God; together we are corrupt and cheerfully affirm the corruption in one another. None of us does good—not even one (Ps. 14:3). All the while, slumbering in spiritual death, the prince of the power of the air would have us—imagers of the one true God—anesthetized to this reality and accepting that its “just the way things are.”
If you are in Christ, thank God every day that he has raised your soul from death. By definition, a Christian is one who has been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col. 1:13). We still live in the world, though we are not of the world any longer. “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
Weep with Those Who Weep
Through our godly lives, God’s light illumines the shadowy darkness of the world (Phil. 2:15). And through Christ, we can resist the vortex of the course of this world. One way to practically do this is to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).
Your weeping implies that you recognize something to sincerely weep about. This may give you an opportunity to tell why you aren’t falling for the course of this world’s gravitational pull into complacency and acceptance of evil. Do not underestimate the impact of your tears in the life of your friends—believers and unbelievers. Weep with your believing friends when they weep and affirm that there is something terribly wrong with this world that is stained by sin. Be out of step with the course of this world and weep with them with hope because of Christ.
When our lost friends are blind in the darkness, they don't know it is dark. Weep with your lost friends and refuse to accept the morphine of the course of this world. Weep with people from other religious backgrounds. Weep with people from different ethnic backgrounds. And when someone asks you, “Why would you weep for my people?” tell them why. Tell them that our lives weren’t meant to be marked by death and explain to them what went wrong in the Garden of Eden. Tell them why you are weeping with hope because of what happened on a cross and then three days later in a different garden.
Physical gravity exerts its power on us because there is a larger force at work. If a rock gets tossed up in the air, it must come down; it can't help itself. Likewise, when we are dead in our sins we can't help ourselves but to follow the course of this world. But the gravitational pull from the course of this world has been broken by the crucified and resurrected Son of God. Jesus took this present evil age and snapped it like a toothpick on his cross. We follow him and walk in his ways, and one day he will lead us out of our graves into resurrection life.
All Christians, especially those who are suffering, should be daydreaming about eternity on a regular basis.
We all need help and we are all helpers—that’s part of being human.
If you mourn the fallenness of your world rather than curse its difficulties, you know that grace has visited you