Something is seriously flawed about humans. Every thinking person – theist or non-theist alike – agrees with this. You need look no further than a toddler day-care. In the nursery of my former congregation was posted “The Toddler’s Creed”.
If I want it, it’s mine
If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine
If I can take it away from you, it’s mine
If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine
If it’s mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what
If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine
If it just looks like mine, it’s mine
So why is this?
“Well, it’s just the way humans are,” you might say. To which I ask, “But why?” Imagine for just a moment an alt-universe where babies shared their toys, and didn’t become vampiric with each other, and felt compassion when their neighbor bashed his skull into a coffee table. A Darwinist would understand my point and answer, “Because we’re basically animals, just a gene or two above the rest. We do what all animals have had to do to survive for millions of years. Survival of the fittest, baby.” (Picture SOTF on all the diapers.)
But Christianity recoils from naturalism as the sole explanation for what’s been called ‘human depravity’, because naturalism leaves out the soul. When King David, for lust’s sake, destroyed Bathsheba’s family, he didn’t pray, “Lord help me rise above this animal nature of mine!” He cried out instead, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Why does everyone sin? The Bible’s answer is because everyone has a sin nature. We have a contagion in our souls. Selfishness, not survival, is the bent of our hearts. And we pass that corruption along to our children, generation after generation. “In sin did my mother conceive me,” David wrote in the same psalm (51:5).
How do we overcome this corruption? Not through self-effort. There’s nothing wrong with mindfulness training or motivational teaching or any technique we try to improve the moral landscape of our lives. But the gulf between who we are and who we know we ought to be is too vast. We’d have an easier time long-jumping over the Grand Canyon.
Not through science either. Even with all our technology, human nature remains stubbornly unchanging. (A frightening thought when you consider it – put a club in a sinful human’s hands, the damage will be limited. Put a nuclear weapon or a biological agent in a sinful human’s hands, God help us all.)
Speaking of which, there’s the answer for overcoming our sin nature. With God’s help. Last week we told the story of how God came to earth in Christ to initiate the greatest rescue attempt in history. This week we will work to explain how that that rescue-work continues down to the present time.
Fasten your seat-belts. Let’s get on with the journey.