There are many who are saying in 2017 that we are living in an upside down world where “good” is called “evil” and “evil” is called “good”. Others say that the world is in chaos, out of control. Still others are saying it’s as though darkness is overcoming the world and we are living in a world of unreality, a world of madness. Evidence of that is seen in recent months and years where we have seen nonsense being espoused by some scientists in their writings about “extreme” global warming threats. Or office bearers in Medical and Law bodies in Australia making pronouncements that their organisations had certain views concerning sexuality issues. But they did not have the right to speak on behalf of their members who had not been consulted. They were reprimanded by many of their own members for misrepresenting their views. Or we might think of politicians who are taking their countries further and further into debt with seemingly no desire to do anything about it! It is a sad world indeed when one cannot accept as truth what many scientists, medicos and legal folk are saying whilst we are being led into an ever -increasing national debt.
Why is the world like this? I wrote about this some 5 years ago when I was studying Romans chapter 1. The passage talks about a world in rebellion against God and how He has handed people over to do their own thing, to do what they wanted to do. They responded by misusing the free-will they were given. The passage also tells us what takes place as a result. That sad story is being played out before our eyes at the moment throughout the world. The following is that article which I think is still highly relevant today. It is actually my extended paraphrase of Romans 1.
Reproducing Article No. 87 written in August 2012
“How Did The World Come To Be In Such A Mess?” Well it’s pretty clear really! We’ve turned our back on God. When you turn your back on God you can get into a hell of a mess (literally). God has shown us in His book (the Bible) how we are meant to live but we have ignored what He said. What we did know, we didn’t act on anyway! But how about people who don’t have Bibles? How do they know how they are meant to live? A good question! But there is an answer. God showed a lot about Himself in the world He made. For example the more you study the world the more you realise that you didn’t make it. Neither did your wonderful parents or grandparents! It shows such intricate design and order that it is obvious that no human could ever have designed it or created it. Some supernatural being must have done it. A being who is above nature, who made it all.
We can paint beautiful life-like flowers on canvas but we can’t make them live. We can harness the wind to derive energy, but we can’t produce the wind ourselves, (well some blowhards do better than the rest of us but it is infinitesimal in the grand scale of things.) We use some explosives to do a bit of damage but a violent tornado or earthquake does far more damage in a matter of moments. We marvel at the food chains in the world and marvel that it is all so coordinated, as though someone planned it that way. It is indeed a short-sighted person who says that there is not a supernatural being who made it all. Seeing the order and the power in creation is meant to lead everyone to know more about this being. The creation does bear witness to the existence of a Creator whom people are meant to “search out” in whatever way they can.
However the Bible says that instead of searching out more about this Creator God, humans refused to acknowledge His existence. They refused to thank Him for the privilege of living in the wonderful world He had made. By taking their focus off Him as creator they began to think silly thoughts about God and to live as though He didn’t exist. This led to more foolish thinking. In fact what happened was this. They made their own gods. They did this in three ways.
I). Firstly they tossed aside the evidence that the creator God had shown in His creation. In its place they made images to be their gods. Some looked like humans. Others looked like birds or animals or even (shudder, shudder!) nasty looking reptiles. Fancy thinking that lifeless images could compare to the creator God!
II). Secondly they rejected the truth about God that He had revealed about Himself. They began to live a lie. They realised that they had strong feelings. But instead of expressing those feelings appropriately in the way the Creator God wanted, they did their “own thing” independently of God. Their focus went from being on the Creator God to being focussed on the creation itself. It’s as though they were saying, “We don’t need you Creator, if you exist that is. We can manage this world. We are sufficient of ourselves to run the show. We don’t need you even if you do exist!”
So God did something very significant. It’s as though He said, “Well if you want to run your own show, I’ll let you do it. I gave you free-will in the hope you chose to worship and follow me. But I’m now handing you over to do what you want to do”. What happened? They did what they wanted to do!
III). Thirdly, they rejected God in rejecting His order in creation. Some women, for whatever reason, felt an attraction towards other women. So they acted on it and formed same-sex relationships. It was not what God wanted (Genesis 2:24). It was contrary to the purpose for which God had created the world and the people in it. Some men also, for whatever reason, gave up the way God had made the world composed of males and females. They turned their backs on women and focussed their consuming passion on other men. And expressed their passions inappropriately from God’s point of view. He saw it as shameless. He saw it as an error on their part. He saw their actions as coming from a debased mind. But you can’t act contrary to what God wants and not expect consequences. One of the consequences was that God continued to hand them over to do what they wanted. What they continued to do was not what He wanted for them. But He gave them a chance to turn to Him to act in the ways He wanted them to act. They refused His help to become the people He wanted them to become.
Was God just picking on those who were involved in same-sex activity? No, of course not! He is against everything that is harmful for His creatures. The following are some of the things that earn the displeasure of God when people turn away from Him. It is not only anti-social behaviour, but anti-God behaviour as well.
Other signs of rebellion against God in His world
People who lose their focus on God to whom they are accountable, wrongly focus on other people. They can become nasty to them. Instead of being righteous people they can become filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They can be filled with many anti-social attitudes and actions. Their envy may lead them to destroy others by harbouring murderous thoughts towards them, creating strife, being deceitful and being malicious. They continue on this downward spiral by gossiping about people, by slandering them, by being insolent to them. They maintain haughty, boastful attitudes and fail to have due respect to those who brought them into the world. They may even try to work out how they might inflict even more damage on those they don’t like. As those who have given up on God they have nothing to offer in relationships. In short they are the “less than they might be people”, senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
There is a very, very sad thing that happens. The people who are guilty of any or all of the things mentioned above in their rebellion against God, also encourage other people to do the very same things. They actually applaud those people when they do the things that are anti-God and thus anti-social, Rom 1:32. Although they know full well God’s just sentence–that those who practice such things deserve to die–they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.
The very sobering thought behind all this is that when people turn away from God and act in rebellion against Him, as seen above, He takes them seriously. He purposely hands them over to do what they want to do apart from Him. Freedom to rebel. Freedom to run their own lives. Freedom to ruin the lives of others through inappropriate speech and behaviour which is repugnant to God.
So there is the answer. The world is in a hell of a mess because the powers of darkness run rampant in a society which has turned its back on God. People unknowingly become the puppets of evil powers even while they think they are running their own lives. St Paul once wrote to Timothy a church leader who had to deal with people who were false teachers. He advised Timothy how to behave, 2Ti 2:24-26 “The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, (25) instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth. (26) Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.” How scary to realise that when you think you are running your own life, that it is the Devil who is “calling the shots”.
Is there any hope? Yes, amazing hope through amazing grace. The transforming power of God is available to make new creatures out of those who turn from their rebellion against God. To those who have focussed on creation, to now turn to focus on a relationship with God through Christ. As ‘The Message’ version of the Bible puts the words of 2 Corinthians 5:14-19, (14) “Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do. Our firm decision is to work from this focused centre: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat.(15) He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.(16) Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore.(17) Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!(18) All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. (19) God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.”
Do you want to get out of the mess you have gotten into in life? As ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step’, so the change in your life can begin with a simple prayer to God.
Prayer:- “Lord, I am sorry for running my own life apart from You. I’m sorry for all the hurt and pain I caused others as I lived that way. Please forgive all my sins and transform my life by Your Holy Spirit so that I can become more like Jesus in all I say and do. I ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.”
(PS. The words in the article above are really an extended paraphrase of the words in Romans chapter 1:18-31. I will write in more detail on this passage in future articles. But read the passage now and get blessed!)
Blog No.236. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Wednesday 6th September 2017