For the week of April 30, 2011 / 26 Nisan 5771
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27
Haftarah: Amos 9:7-15
A Real Solution to a Real Problem
And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them. (Vayikra / Leviticus 20:23; ESV)
The great author G.K. Chesterton wrote, "It isn't that they can't see the solution. It's that they can't see the problem." Many voices today offer all sorts of solutions for successful living, but very few accurately identify the problems we face as human beings. This is also the case among those who claim to offer biblically based solutions. That the Bible offers effective solutions many agree: abundant life, everlasting life, freedom, forgiveness, acceptance, healing, hope, joy, peace, love, goodness, stability, wisdom, and so on. These rightly presuppose the common lack of such things as many of us are oppressed, sick, worried, fearful, guilty, depressed, and lost.
In order to resolve the human predicament and experience the wonderful blessings of God in our lives, we need to come to grips with the underlying problem. Otherwise we will only be treating the symptoms and not the problem itself.
It is in identifying the problem that many proponents of the Bible fall short. Many of us agree that the fundamental issue facing all people comes down to our relationship with God. Alienation from God manifests itself in human dysfunction. Where we differ is over how God views our alienation. Failure to correctly understand God's perspective on what's wrong undermines our understanding and application of his solution.
Many see God's perspective on the human condition as one of sympathy only. He feels so bad for us that he has gone to great lengths to convince us of his love. If only we could grasp this, then we could be everything we were meant to be.
It is not surprising that this kind of thinking has led many to wonder where those who believe differently from us or don't believe at all fit in. If God loves us so much and he has the power to rescue us all, then what stops him from doing so? The weakness with this way of thinking is that it hasn't properly grasped the human problem and therefore fails to provide the biblical solution.
In the verse I read at the beginning we get a glimpse of the real problem. Contrary to popular misconception, God is displeased with the human condition. With regard to the nation living in the Promised Land prior to Israel's conquest, he detested them. God detested people? Doesn't he love everyone? God's love is a complex thing that cannot be truly comprehended apart from his righteous wrath. God is not like a sentimental grandparent, whose heart's desire is to spoil his grandkids with whatever suits their fancy. He is the Creator God and Judge of all, who made human beings in his own image to suit his own plans and purposes. Our rebellion against him is high treason against the only true King and is worthy of eternal punishment. God's love is expressed in his willingness to become like one of us and give himself in the person of the Messiah for the forgiveness of sins.
This solution presupposes a problem of such depth that few of us are willing to take seriously. Human depravity due to our rejection of God makes us detestable in God's sight. We may fool ourselves into thinking that our plight is not that bad as we go to great pains to cover up the evil that dwells in the hearts of us all. Yet we continue to offend our Creator through our self-serving greed and violence. We should wonder why God doesn't wipe out the whole lot of us.
The growing crisis among some Bible believers over how God could allow anyone to perish fails to accept the human problem. But once we see the problem for what it is, not only we can receive God's solution for ourselves, but we can also more effectively help others to do so as well.
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