Monday, June 11, 2007

What's Wrong With The World?

When GK Chesterton was asked by the Times of London, about a century ago, to answer this question "What's Wrong With the World?", he replied to them in the form of a letter.

Dear Sirs,

I am.

Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton
Profound. In its brevity, it creates a wide echo. It stirs a longest ripple. What appears like a rapid drumbeat is actually a pair of truth-confession clanging cymbals. Like unwelcome guests to a party of sin, it gatecrashes the revelry without apology. It sounds a heart-felt truth that reverberates its musical honesty throughout the halls of one's inner being. When the lips confess, and the hearts rejoice in being truly forgiven, the response is spirited joy instead of a dead dud of nonchalance. The root of the problem is sin, many may say. I differ. It is the inappropriate response to sin that is the root of the problem. Hence, I am.

How did Jesus respond to sin and evil in this world? Did he go on a moralism crusade? Did he head towards the litigation courts to right the wrongs he saw? Did he go on a neighbourhood rampage to fight for rights? Did he return an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? No.
"He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before the shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth." (Acts 8:32b-33, NIV)
By his example, Jesus has taught us that our acts of moral behaviour and our fight for justice, while important, cannot be the center of our Christian living. The way we respond to the wrongs and sins of this world is never one marked by brutal retaliation. It must never feed the cruel wolves of evil by using the ever-sharp guillotine of retribution. Instead, while it is correct to stand up for the right and for the just, to defend the weak and the powerless, it is more important to do so in the right manner and with the right attitude. We need to replace our unquenching desire for teachings on moral behaviour towards a cultivation of an attitude of sacrificial living, anchored with a deepening understanding Christ's sacrifice. Eugene Peterson puts it very well.
The Christian community will give up teaching moral behaviour, giving instrution in the commandments of Moses, the imperatives of Jesus and the exhortations of Paul. But however important they are, they cannot serve as the center. We cultivate the honour of God by following Jesus to the cross. The one word that expresses this most succinctly is sacrifice. When we are faced with the enormous wrong in the world around and within us we respond by cultivating a life of sacrifice. (Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places), JJ Thiessen Lectures 1998, p50

Now it is important that I do not send out a wrong message. When we recognize that we are sinful in this world, and are to blame whether in part or in whole, it does not mean we remain in this state indefinitely and not do anything about it. What it means is to first shape our attitude (from the inside), with the cultivation of living sacrificially. This is motivated by love. In the process, we approach life not with a vengeful spirit but one who is forgiven. To be sorry for the wrongs we have done. To be honest that Whatever rights we can ever do, can never be more than what Christ has done at the cross. Finally, of course GK Chesterton did not simply write to the editors at the Times. He also wrote a book, published in 1910, with the exact title: "What's Wrong With The World?." It is available for free here.

No comments:

Latest Posts