WHY JESUS DOESN’T HANG OUT IN THE SELF-HELP SECTION
When I was a little kid we had this long gravel driveway. I hated that driveway, because it had a ton of weeds. Once every few months, my parents would make me and my brothers pick all the weeds. We’d sit cross-legged and pull up the weeds, tossing them in plastic buckets my mom gave us. If we pulled the weeds the wrong way, my dad corrected us. “You can’t just pull off the tops of the weeds,” he’d say, “you have to get down and tear them out by the root.”
I know that is a pretty obviously statement for anyone who’s ever done thirty-seven seconds of yard work, but I think we overlook this principle when it comes to the problems in our lives. I think we spend way too much time pulling up our “weeds” without ever getting to the root. We just pull off the tops of our weeds. Heck, sometimes we even trim them up nicely to look attractive.
What is our problem? What are the “weeds?” Guns? Well, you could take away guns and people still murder. Is the problem mental illness? Most of the killing done in the world is done by (arguably) sane people. Let me make an overly-simplistic proposition that will make half of you quit reading:
The root of the problem is sin.
Not “sinning,” like cussing at your kids or drinking too much whiskey or cheating on your spouse. Those are just the behaviors of sin. We can stop doing those things. We can even start doing better things. But that doesn’t erase our condition, which is sin.
Jesus is the gardener who can pull up sin by it’s roots. Jesus can erase the condition of sin. Jesus has taken chaos and is bringing creation back into harmony with God. Jesus will defeat every last inch of evil. Jesus will ultimately restore heaven to earth. There will be no more kids murdered, and no more tears. No more war or hatred. The earth will be unified with the knowledge that Jesus Christ is king and victor, and everyone will gasp, shake, and bow at the sight of him.
I hate saying that it’s that simple. But it’s true. I know saying things like “Jesus is the answer!” is the butt of all the hipster jokes. I hate sounding like an old fire-and-brimstone preacher. The difference is that those old preachers attack the behaviors most the time. “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew, and don’t hang around with others that do…” They’re still just pulling up the tops of the weeds.
Accepting that “sin” is our condition is actually really liberating, because it shows how we can (and how we can’t) go about fixing things. It moves us from a place of self-reliance to a place of dependency on Jesus. As long as we’re in self-help mode, we’re doomed. We can’t help ourselves. That’s sort of the point of the cross.
Don’t get me wrong, we should change our behavior. We should do good things. We should talk about gun control, and we should promote thorough treatment for the mentally ill. It’s just that those things aren’t the starting point. The starting point is this awful condition that the thesaurus just won’t let me call anything other that “sin.” That’s where we find ourselves. So what do we do?
Re-read the last four paragraphs.
Do you think that society’s problem is as simple as “sin?” (All viewpoints welcome!)