Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Refusing to recognize evil

Last week Greta Thunberg stepped onto the world stage to deliver her message to national leaders.

She declared “For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear.” Perhaps 30 years sounds like a long time to someone who is 16 years old. In the longer history of science, 30 years is not that long. We still have much to learn, and perhaps to unlearn. The environmental message in the 30 years before the most recent 30 was the climate is cooling and we are in danger of another ice age.

When science crosses over into politics, scientific uncertainty becomes scarce, especially when public research funding is on the line. While there is a steady flow of proverbial ink on this topic, I'm more interested in a non-scientific topic she raised in her comments.

“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”

In other words, she believes nations are failing to act, and therefore must not understand the urgency of the problem. Or, if they do understand the urgency and are not acting on the problem, then they must be evil. She does not want to believe people are evil.

This is a much bigger problem than whether or not there is climate change. One day “heaven and earth will pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33; Revelation 21:1). It will no longer matter then whether or not someone stole “my dreams and my childhood,” as Thunberg mourned. Childhood is but the beginning of one's life, and one's life is not the best thing to gain or the worst thing to lose.

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36). In other worlds, you can be on top of the world, on the biggest stage possible, gain all the world's approval, and if you lose your own soul, you've lost everything.

Many people like to think of themselves as a good person. Many create their own forms of righteousness (Romans 10:3), and then (surprise!) meet that standard. Who doesn't land on “the right side of history” when they're writing the history? There is no end of man's ability to justify himself. This has no bearing on whether or not man ends up justified before God.

We do not get to set the ultimate standard of right and wrong. God does. He has done this in His Law. If we break one of these laws, we're guilty of breaking all of them (James 2:10). That's what it means to be evil. We are not just sinners, but we have sin. We have evil, wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus told us we are evil (Matthew 12:34). He is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29-36).

Deep down, man knows this. The law is written on his heart, and his conscience—unless it is seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2)—will inform of his waywardness with his thoughts either accusing him of wrongdoing he has done, or excusing him of doing wrong (Romans 2:15), but either way, he has still done wrong.

Refusing to believe this will cost you your soul.

Believe in Jesus, and you will gain that which you cannot lose, even after the earth passes away.

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