Tag Archives: matthew

A rare thing: On our depravity, our need for a reboot and the only way

Tonight I saw a rare thing; or rather I heard a rare thing.

We were looking up at the stars in the wee hours of the morning, contemplating the universe, current affairs and the state of mankind. These are all common themes in the wee hours of the morning. Amongst my friends (and I think people in general) there is a general recognition that the universe is grand and big, and that current global events are fairly fickle. These are all “safe” topics, even when you disagree slightly. Our conversation along these lines was not unusual, but it was a rare recognition about the state of mankind that surprised me tonight.

You see the notion of the extreme extent of the sinfulness of each human is something that is oft understated in western culture… especially amongst people as proud as some of my peers. In the past years my understanding of my own depraved heart has given me a type of awe or reverence for sin. Not in an all-consuming way but in a thoughtful sense of urgency I guess. When left alone with my thoughts I appreciate the situation of sin I suppose. When I’m alone I can easily see and confess my condition, my need.

When I’m alone.

But that’s when I’m alone.

As we discussed the world news tonight under the stars we joked about a need for a reboot. A wiping out of all of mankind in some sort of robot-apocalypse, mass-suicide or even a flood. My friend passionately believes the opposite to what I believe regarding the possibility of world-wide floods, Bibles and God. They are a self-described antitheist. When they grimly joked about solutions to the state of the world they were only joking, but then they got serious. They talked about how reboot was the only answer but quickly added how it could never work.

“The problem is mankind,” they said, and they were dead right. “No matter how many times we rebooted we would always fail and stuff things up. The evil is within us, it’s what we do.” My friend used the word ‘we’, an important and rare recognition. The willingness to accept personal responsibility for evil is something I have not come across in many people. The hopelessness of sin and total corruption of the human heart is extreme. How rare it is for this condition to be acknowledged openly? It is all too often downplayed, ignored or excused. Tonight I was invited to discuss and give proper respect to it under those stars.

Even in the Church, where the sinfulness of humans is supposed to be a core doctrine we rarely see confession on the level of total, open acknowledgement. It’s seen as taboo, offensive or old-school to preach or talk about it. There is a lot of talk of relevance, love, friendship, justice and a nebulous version of salvation, but sin is not often mentioned to the extent it was tonight. This is a big problem in itself because without acknowledgement of sin, there is very little power or purpose in Christianity, even in the cross. Sin is the problem in the world and the depravity of mankind is epic and huge. The wrath of God is against us forever because of it, because of our wicked sinful condition. Christ has come to provide amends, to take the punishment of the wrath and offer a better way. Without acknowledging the wrath is there and fair, how do we escape it? It is impossible.

It can be an offensive place to go, to enter into this dialogue about sin. Oh, we say we are an open-minded culture but try bringing that one up. In Australia you can go where you never once would and talk openly about religion, politics and sex. You can say what you like about anyone and anything. You can do anything, and be anyone. But woe to the one to suggest that there is something totally wrong with the world and that it comes from within. We are dismissed as narrow-minded. It is not politically correct, even if it is correct, and is usually seen as residue from a more primitive time when religion ruled the land.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13,14)
If the Church (by Church I mean Christian people not an organisation) declines to offer to the world the concept of sin and total depravity, the importance of Christs sacrifice will be lost on them. People will refuse Christ, not knowing his relevance to them. They cannot call His death and resurrection good news without first knowing the bad news.

Sin is reality and we underestimate its power, here & now and in eternity.

My friend was correct about the need for a reboot, and they were correct about the problem being the hearts of man. It is impossible to reboot things with sin so prevalent. To reboot the world we need Christ, Gods answer to our sin. Though my friend see’s the problem clearly, and in a rare moment at two in the morning is prepared to recognise its fullness, they unfortunately stop there. The rare confession and acknowledgement of sin is merely the beginning though, and although in acknowledging total-depravity my friend is probably closer to life and God than a lot of religious people, they were not ready to reboot. They are off to a good start though, for it is only when we admit our need can we begin the reboot.

God.
Depravity abounds… in this world around me and within me.
Forgive me.
Give me faith to believe and to cling to Christ.
That is what is needed.
He is the only way.

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Karma doesn’t really work (in which Nick reflects on being stabbed in the back)

Lately I’ve been thinking about what is the appropriate way to respond to betrayal. Not necessarily a positive thought I know, but unfortunately it has been a necessary one lately.

I’ve always strived to act with kindness and to treat people better than fairly. Before I ever became a Christian and read in the Bible that I was to “count others as more significant” than myself (Phil 2:1-8) my parents had brought me up to treat others well. This has given me a good grounding to know how to relate to other people honestly, respectfully and as a servant. I don’t do this for a positive response from them but rather because it is the right thing to do. I guess there is a certain expectation or hope though that if you treat others kindly they will reciprocate.

I have learned over the past few months that this isn’t the case. You don’t always get what you deserve in every situation or relationship. Ego or selfishness come into play and people will often seek to do what is best for them even if it causes you harm or pain. Karma doesn’t work. The “what goes around comes around” principle is kind of cool to see in movies, but it isn’t observable in the real world. This side of eternity Justice has a long backlog of unfinished work’s on her to do list. Especially in the working world.

There are two ways for workers out there to establish a good name within their workforce. I’ve seen both work and also fail at different times over the years and it largely depends on the work-culture or environment, and the character of the people involved. The two ways I’ve seen people make themselves look good are: by working hard and doing a good job or by pulling others down and making others look bad. Most workforces have both types of workers. I’ve always hoped to be the first type and that my integrity, honesty and work-ethic would speak for itself. I don’t know how someone could look at themselves in the mirror if they bitch, whine, moan or pull somebody else down with words just to advance themselves. Surely their consciences would get the better of them or at least their pride and self-respect would.

That was my theory anyway.

I’ve observed an increase of sneaky wickedness and bad character in this world. I try to turn a blind eye to it and just live differently. It’s hard to turn a blind eye to something though, when it is aimed and directed at you. Lately I have had a hard to miss target on my back. Sometimes things are so blatant they demand a retort. But what is the response for a Christian who has been betrayed or backstabbed? When does turning “the other cheek” principle apply and when is it just a weak excuse or unwise misinterpretation?

I have treated a certain person with love, respect and kindness, even sticking up for them to others and refusing to do them harm. I have done an incredible lot for this person, some of which they don’t even know about. It has recently come to my attention through other people that this person is lying about me, using me as a scapegoat or puppet, taking advantage of my kindness and blaming me for them not having met their responsibilities. It kind of hurts because of all I have done for them, but it is also concerning me because of the implications of my good name being tarnished by this person blaming me for their own lack of competence. It may affect future job prospects for myself.

The question is what is the response that carries with it the integrity and the character that God wants? It is so important to me to only do with this what God wants me to do and to bring glory to Him.

Here are a few things that I have been thinking about tonight that are helping me to forge my response. Thoughts on how to handle betrayal-

– Go to the person who is causing you grief. Talk to them and tell them where you stand. Tell them how you feel. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother…” (Matt 18:15). Be completely honest.

– If that doesn’t work or get through to them, get a witness. Someone to mediate. “…But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses…” (Matt 18:16)

– Forgive and love your enemies. Christ did this under the most extreme situations (Luke 23:34), surely you and I can follow his examples in our own situations. Christ preached a sermon that demanded we “…love our enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you…” (Luke 6:27-28). This is a hard one, and personal. How do you forgive someone who unrepentantly lies about you? The answer is “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Receiving Gods forgiveness allows us to forgive others. It is a supernatural response to being forgiven by God. After all we have sinned against Him far greater than anyone has sinned against us.

– Do not seek revenge. It won’t turn back the clock. Allow room for God to vindicate. “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all… Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ …Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17).

See the Bible has very practical clear directions for those who have been backstabbed, The dilemma is: I want to be vindicated. I’m not bitter or anything like that, although I am hurt. I have forgiven but forgiving won’t give my good name back if the facts of the situation aren’t to a certain extent revealed. In my current case I was falsely accused by someone I thought was my friend, publicly (to a small group and hierachy) but behind my back. This was to unfairly shift the responsibility for their mistake from them and onto me, with lies, to preserve their own career. As a Christian I believe in turning the other cheek and looking out for people. I believe in seeking and making peace. I believe in allowing God to vindicate me, and that my actions and reputation will speak for themselves. However, I also believe in truth. To not speak out and defend myself will make me look bad. I don’t really know what to do, but I think it is ok in this situation where I have tried to sort it out individually and to discuss the facts of the issue with those in the know and those that have been misled, all the while maintaining a forgiving heart . That’s my plan at the moment anyway.

I feel like its okay to not respect the person as much, because they have shown that although they still need love and forgiveness, they do not deserve the respect I would have for them if they only confessed their flaws and mistakes. If they only did that I might even be able to respect them again but we’ll see, I’ll have to cross that bridge when I don’t have a sore, stabbed back.

Karma is a bull-crap term. Its false a idea that doesn’t work. These things are not circular but a straight line drawn into eternity by the Creator God. The desire of a Christian shouldn’t be for Karma to come back to bite our accusers, but for our God to intervene and grant the accusers repentance so Justice bites neither of us but both may receive eternal mercy and forgiveness in Eternity.

It is Gods good pleasure to exact a fair justice on your accusers sins when the time is right… either at Calvary or eternally. As for my accusers I hope my thoughts, words and deeds point them to Calvary.