The Human Dilemma
It's really about the human dilemma. It's really about, "Why can't things be nice?" Why must there be prejudice and bigotry in the
world? Why do "differences" evoke suspicion and fear?
But is it just about differences? If I have a blue car and you have a red car, how can there possibly be problems with THAT? Unless in our culture at that time, red symbolized anarchy (or communism), and the choice of red was in fact a political statement, and you knew that. Alas, even simple differences can be charged with ethical implications.
But is it about cultural differences? Aren't these just superficial and subject to change, as history has proven over and over again? For example, won't private ownership of property very likely appear primitive and cruel to those viewing us 500 years from now, as slavery appears to us today? Think about it. We can't "own" creation any more that we can own people. And isn't much of today's strife and worry and work all about what we own or want to own? Yes, values always change. But that's not the human dilemma.
Our differences are just the trigger. They merely expose our prejudices. They aren't the cause. Our non-rational responses belie a deeper problem. There appears to be something fundamentally wrong... a flaw... in us... a defect that affects everything we do or think. Our heads agree about the right thing to do, but we still find ourselves sometimes doing the wrong thing anyway. We drive over the speed limit. We pocket that quarter that came back to us by accident from the pay telephone. But this is too tame really, isn't it? Everyone knows that it is.
We harbor a grudge. We jump to a conclusion. We show favoritism to a friend. No, no, still too tame. We haven't even scratched the surface. We say one thing and think another. We ignore the needy. We patronize those whom we feel beneath us. Oh, no, no, we can sink lower than that. Can't we? Can't we?
The human dilemma is humanity. Or better still, the human heart. There's something desperately wrong with it. Science can't distill it into an equation (or a genetic code). Psychology hasn't counseled, medicated, or conditioned it away. Society can't eliminate it through education or imprisonment. We know it's there. We live it every day. But why? Why is the gift of free choice, which we so loudly proclaim as "free moral beings", denied to us in this thing that we would be so much better off without?
It really does affect everything: Our sexuality, our relationships, our employment, our amusements, our diet... everything. Let's be honest. Can we name a part of our lives where we can truly say that temptation never occurs to us? Example: We agree in our hearts that pornography is wrong, still we go to an "R" rated film where we know we will likely see naked flesh and/or violence (which we also agree that there is too much of in the world). Ever been tempted to cheat on a diet? Told a half-truth to avoid a confrontation? Ever loafed on company time? (That's stealing.) Ever had pre-marital or extra-marital sex? Ever thought about it? Hmm...
Can Religion deliver us from Evil? Depends on whom we talk to. If Legalism appeals to us (viz. doing good and avoiding evil as a means to tilt the scale in your favor), then we can try Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, and a good chunk of the Christian denominations. If Liberalism is our cup of tea (viz. doing the same without worrying about the outcome because God is going to forgive us all anyway)(a.k.a. Universalism), then we have most of the New Age Religions, some of the Eastern Religions, Mormonism again, and another good chunk of Christianity. Doesn't sound very satisfying, does it? It's not.
"O.K. then, Big Talker, what's your solution?" It's not really my solution. But two things are apparent. First, we must need help, because we seem to lack whatever it takes to solve this dilemma. Second, something's got to be done about all the guilt we've racked up already. Sounds to me like a job for Jesus and the Holy Spirit. "But that's Christianity again! Didn't we just exclude Christianity as either too Liberal or too Legalistic?" Yes, sadly, most Christians live a life of veiled Legalism or Liberalism (and sometimes, not so veiled!), but this is a natural outcome of living out of our own resources and understanding instead of God's.
Try this: Christianity is the only religion to appeal to sacrifice and redemption to remove guilt, and, puts God inside us to give us help to live right. (And don't confuse this with "getting in touch with the God in all of us". What is being spoken of is the result of a transaction, not some half-baked enlightenment.) If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for our sins, and that from the outcome of this belief, God, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, goes to live in us, then this is effectively what has happened. We become new persons, and as a new person, it is harder to do wrong. It just is.
Now it is not permitted to challenge everyone to "try it". Being "born again" isn't a philosophy that one discards when a better philosophy comes along. When it really happens, we can't go back. And if we try to go back, we'll be more miserable than we ever thought possible. But... If solving the human dilemma is thing to be desired, then starting with our own personal dilemma is where we must begin.
Be encouraged. That's why Jesus came in the first place.