Do you see like God sees? Part 3

The commercial on TV right now that makes me laugh out loud every time I see it is the stock trading baby, done by E*TRADE. That’s good comedy.

Advertisements in general serve as an insightful example of worldviews at work. After all, an add is essentially a gospel presentation: “You have a certain problem, need, or insufficiency, but I can provide you with the answer, solution, or fix.”

At the heart of every worldview is a “gospel story” because one of the fundamental questions every worldview answers is “what is wrong with the world?” I don’t know anyone who would say things are as good as they could be: war, poverty, hunger, broken families, and personal frustration pepper our world. That is our common human experience.

Thus a worldview must identify the root problem and then offer the solution. The answer to that core problem is the gospel.

So, what is the gospel according to E*TRADE? They expose one major problem you and I have: investing and trading stock is complicated, expensive, and the entire prospect is a bit overwhelming. True enough. I feel that way. Their answer – their gospel: online trading at E*TRADE is so easy a baby can do it. That is a great add because it is a great picture of the company’s gospel.

Not all gospel presentations have such a narrow focus, of course. Take, for example, the story the naturalist worldview tells:

Naturalism asserts that the entirety of reality is the physical stuff that makes up our universe. There is nothing other than the physical. A result of this view is that science is the ultimate standard of truth. After all, the realm that science tests, predicts, and explains is the physical world. If only physical stuff exists, science is king.

So, according to the naturalist, what is the main problem with the world? Well, the cause of our unhappiness, our pain, and our problems is that we have not yet discovered and cataloged the entire natural world – our science is incomplete. Once humanity understands everything going on in our universe, we will also have the resources to manipulate and control the physical aspects of that universe to our advantage: genetic manipulation will solve our physical deficiencies, food production will solve the problems of poverty and hunger, health care advancements will solve our sickness and even death. On the naturalistic worldview, science is our gospel because it is the answer to our most basic problem: a lack of knowledge.

These are just 2 quick examples, but many different worldviews posit many different central problems to our human experience.

Ignorance. Poverty. Authority. Corruption. Greed. War. Selfishness.

But what story does the Bible tell? What is the source of all the problems with the world according to a Christian worldview?

The answer, of course, is sin.

Paul explains to the Romans that humanity “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator…Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” And thus was born all of the ugly things we know and experience today, all a result of that great reversal in our hearts – the deep root of sin that infects humanity.

But I do not think we can leave this truth too quickly.

Our first reaction as religious people is to read Romans 1, adamantly agree that sin is the main problem, and then try to identify the sinners out there who are responsible. Is the main enemy those naturalists I just described? Hollywood? A secular public school system? (Just some of our traditional targets). Where is the epicenter of the sin the Bible identifies as the root of all problems?

When G.K. Chesterton, a British author and major influence of CS Lewis, was asked the very question we are discussing here, “what is the main problem with the world?” he replied quickly: “I am.”

You see, he understood what we often so easily miss – sin is not an “out there” problem. The very same source that causes greedy CEOs to steal money, selfish dictators to commit injustice, and racially motivated hatred to escalate to atrocities and genocide – that very same root – exists inside me. It exists inside you.

Donald Miller, a young Christian author from Portland, after attending a protest writes:

I started wondering if we had accomplished anything. I started wondering whether we could actually change the world. I mean, of course we could – we could change our buying habits, elect socially conscious representatives and that sort of thing, but I honestly don’t believe we will be solving the greater human conflict with our efforts. The problem is not a certain type of legislation or even a certain politician; the problem is the same that it has always been.
I am the problem.
I think every conscious person, every person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality, has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself. I hate this more than anything. This is the hardest principle within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest. (Blue Like Jazz)

“The problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest.”
That describes me. That describes you. That is the fundamental problem with our current reality.

Understanding the problem clearly makes the answer so clear as well. In the face of soul-debilitating sin, a dirty infection that I don’t have the power to clean myself, the gospel of the cross, the grace of Christ, is the only answer – the only gospel – that gives true hope to my deepest problem and need.

Paul, again to the Romans, exclaims: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

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