Christ Our Prophet – Acts 3:17-26
by Pastor Rod Galindo
Many people today acknowledge that Jesus was a prophet, but what does the Bible say about Jesus as a prophet? Join us as we learn from Pastor Rod as h...Download
In the last blog post I wrote that there is a common brokenness or emptiness we seem to carry. I want to discuss the part about emptiness in the next blog. For now the discussion on brokenness is our focus. Whatever the brokenness we have in our life, though it is all different for each one of us, there is this brokenness. Now the brokenness seems to always be related to a sense of fairness or justice. There seems in us a sense in which we desire for things that were once broken to be made right again. We have a sense that says things are supposed to be a certain way. When someone cuts in line in front of us we sense it because we feel we have been wronged. When someone hurts us, we feel that this hurt was not meant to be and we sense that there was a wrong committed.
When we sense that there is a right and a wrong in a particular situation we admit that there is a particular standard that humanity is supposed to live up to, and if we have done wrong we still refer to this standard when we try to make the case that we have not broken this standard. Indeed it seems that if you were to try to hold someone accountable to “not cut in line” or to “stop hurting you” the perpetrator in question would either have to admit to the wrong he/she had committed against the standard and therefore make some restitution or the alternative would be to deny that there was any wrong or breaking of the standard and rationalize their action (usually by way of some excuse). The wrong-doer would say something like “well I had to cut in line because …” or “there was a good reason for hurting you because…” . But though there maybe a good reason at times, there is nothing in experience that says that there would always in every case be a good reason. In fact, more often than not there are very bad reasons as to why people do what they do. If we were honest with ourselves we would admit that we all in some sense do wrong from time to time. It is impossible to do right all the time, but we cannot deny the one thing that always lies behind our decision between right and wrong and we hear it strongly when someone does any measure of wrong towards us. That something we hear is the sense of this standard that exists within us. It is a standard that has dwelled within all humanity since the beginning. How do I know? Well however different the societies and cultures that have existed throughout the ages, there has never been such a difference when it comes to the standard of which I speak. This standard since the ancients was called the Law, or the Law of Human Nature and in fact has held many names, but this much is true, it has always existed because we know that every society and culture however different from our own has always contained a system of right and wrong that never much differed from our own sense of right and wrong.
This sense of right and wrong or the law of human nature as I would like to call it, teaches us something. Somehow like all other laws in the universe, say like gravity or mathematics, it exists, except with one difference. Whereas all other laws cannot be broken, the law of human nature can be broken. We can break this law. We do not have to do the good, the right and the peace-giving. We do not have to be kind, gentle or loving. No, if we are honest with ourselves even many of our acts of kindness are in some sense tinged at times with a self-serving desire. “I will give $20 more in tip to this waiter, which is far more than he deserves, but it will impress Dianna.” or something much more explicit like, “I will give to this charity so long as it gives my business recognition” in short there are multiple ways in which even our best efforts in some way still are highly self-serving at heart, possibly selfish and still breaks the basic standard of right vs. wrong. I am not faulting business men for what they do or the man trying to impress the lovely date. No, what I am merely pointing to is that we live with a standard within us that tell us good vs. bad or right vs. wrong, but that though we would often want to do the good for, as the old saying goes, “do good for goodness sake” we hardly every truly do the good simply because it is good and right to do so. Instead we do seem to either choose the wrong for the most part or half-heartedly do right with ulterior motives. By now I assume that you think i am somewhat obnoxious, a wise guy, or otherwise pretentious because you say to yourself, “of course, isn’t he just pointing out that we are not perfect? He is just going about it in a round about way, but anyone with scruples knows from experience that no one is perfect and life is not fair.” I hope I am at least presenting some of the tensions some of you may be feeling by now.
So in many ways we agree that yes, for the most part we are not perfect, but here is the crazy thing. In most cases laws say how thing are supposed to work and they observe and describe how the rock will fall because of gravity. Whereas it is peculiar that even though there is a standard, a law within us, that tells us how to act, react and for the most part how we as human beings are supposed live, yet we do not follow this law. It is peculiar to me not because it exposes what we all already know, namely that we are not perfect. Instead the crazy thing is that for however many times we do not live accordingly to this law of human nature, and do the wrong instead, we still deeply within us desire greatly to live in a world where others do live by this basic good and right law and we also desire it for ourselves. I have never met someone that did something absolutely wrong or even evil and did not in someway feel guilty and bad about and wished to have done right. What is even more interesting is that even those of us whom we consider sociopaths, even they still do horribly evil things seeking after a feeling or idea of something good. The evil serial killer, still kills so that his sexual desire may be satisfied, but sexual desire in and of itself is not evil and I would say that for the most part is very good. So we can agree, that even those who deeply desire to do evil can only do evil by perverting or corrupting what is already good. If even sociopaths as well as ourselves continue to be haunted by not mere instincts and desires, but this standard that tells us not what we want or need, but what we ought to do, then should not this sense point to something that is somehow outside of ourselves? It is one thing to distinguish between an instinct for preservation and instinct for eating, but what about the sense that lies behind the instinct, that thing that tells us what we ought to do. You may have an instinct to save Bobby from drowning, but there is something that lies behind the instinct that tells us that “you should save him from drowning”. That “should” beckons to do something good and right even if it may be at the expense of our own lives. If we surrender to it we may die in the process, but die heroically. If we do not respond, then we may still have the sense “you should have helped” and may even again feel remorse, guilt etc. The point stands that this sense or standard or as I like to call it the Law, it points to another reality that we seem to be out of tune with.
I remember seeing a young girl learning to play piano. In her learning I noticed that she needed to continue to look at the notes on her piano sheet to be able to play the music correctly. The instincts, desires, needs, and all the things that make up our inner life are very much like the keys on the piano. And the Law of human nature is much like the music sheet with the notes. None of the keys on the piano are wrong, but the right key at the wrong time becomes the wrong key to be played. Similarly instincts and desires are not wrong in and of themselves but can be followed at the wrong time. We were all meant to play a particular song in life, a good song, a harmonious song that is beautiful and right. But for some reason we do not play the right notes, something has gone wrong and somehow we freely choose to play these wrong notes. We desire to play the right song, but we continue to play the wrong notes in life. Why? that is the question I want to tackle first. There is an answer to this in the next blog.
Lastly, I hinted at something earlier that I did not want to tackle right away and which I intend to confront head on in the next blog, but for now I wish to clarify for a moment. Earlier I made the point that the standard seems to be within us in such a way that it is something we expect ourselves and others to live up to, but we do not. This expectation if we all lived up to it would point to some sense of perfection which to many of us should sound like a great thing. But again the problem is we all at some point freely choose to do wrong. The keywords are “free” and “choose”. I want to come back to part of the original question that started all of this “Why is there brokenness in the world?” Can you guess it? Sadly, so many of us and indeed all of us choose the brokenness freely and in the process we break ourselves and break others. The breaking of this standard is not only a free choice, but it would be folly to think that this choice between right and wrong, between good and bad does not affect others. In fact if all of us are terribly honest with ourselves we admit that it has been the free will choosing of others (who have chosen for the wrong or the bad) that have hurt us and it has also been our choosing that has created brokeness that exists in the world. Free choice has a part to play in this discussion because it is the freedom to choose that allows for evil to exist, for brokenness to exist and for the emptiness to continue. The power to choose is a good thing, but it is also the origin of a great many evils, sins that have created brokenness in the world.