Summary: Designed as a short, punchy talk to challenge Christians about mission.
What in the world are we doing?
Sometimes I catch the start of the Ray Hadley show on 2GB. He usually begins by summing up the major news of the day. Last Thursday (28 August, 2009) wasn’t a good day. A family tragically killed on the F3 after a large semi-trailer ploughs into the back of the car. A couple receive only a fine in court after seriously neglecting their children. Things aren’t looking too good for Nathan Rees—the knives are out. Another serious car accident. Whose playing in the Rugby League was the bright spot for the day.
The great psychologist, Carl Jung, is quoted as saying, ‘The only thing we have to fear on the planet is man’. And George Bernard Shaw once said, ‘The world is populated in the main by people who should not exist’. Yet the modern person lives with a naïve optimism that, given enough time, everything will be OK. That given enough time and resources, this world will be able to dig itself out of the dreadful hole its found itself in. But this is no more than a self-indulgent dream. Picasso’s question is a good one, ‘The world today doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do’?
The picture the Bible paints of the world is both true and disturbing. So disturbing, in fact, that many Christians struggle with the diagnosis. In the beginning, mankind was made to rule creation. The noblest of creatures was set at the head of the created order and told to develop all its powers for the enriching of his own life. And this to be done in obedience to God. We were made to rule the world, to master it and enjoy its fruits and all to the glory of God the Creator. So the psalmist says that man was made ‘a little lower than the heavenly beings and (God) crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet’ (Ps 8:4–6).
But Adam And Eve’s arrogant rebellion disrupted the entire order of things that God had made. Sin disordered their relationship with God. Sin shifted a relationship of communion and peace to one of guilt and shame on man’s side, and rebuke and judgment on God’s side. The first sin also disordered and disrupted Adam and Eve’s own nature. They bore Satan’s image rather than God’s, and in this warped image all their descendants were born. And so humanity is collectively united in its opposition to the rule of God.
In the New Testament, the world is often described as the mass of sinful humanity. In Colossians, Paul describes this world as the ‘dominion of darkness’ (Col 1:13). Our world is solidly given to unrighteousness and ungodliness, and it is hostile to the truth and rejects the people of God. But the world is without excuse. ‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles’ (Rom 1:21–23).