We probably all think that we are truly living in an age of moral decline on a magnificent scale. Maybe we’re right. But, there are other generations who thought the same. The greatest generation fought a world war to stop a madman in his quest to wipe out an entire race. Sooner back than we would like to remember, a man could be hung in this country for the color of his skin. In some areas of the Old West, everyone carried a gun because everyone used one—and justice often came hand-in-hand with a bullet.
We humans are basically rotten. Anyone who tries to tell you that we are ultimately good in and of ourselves is lying to you. Do you wonder why God includes stories in the Old Testament of a father willing to have his daughter raped to protect his male guests from the gang of townsmen standing outside his door as Lot did, of brother killing brother as Cain killed Abel, of brother raping sister as David’s son Amnon did to his half-sister Tamar?
In a time when God made His miracles known, sent angels to interfere in human affairs, and came to the prophets in dreams to communicate with them directly, people didn’t question the existence of a Holy Creator, merely the reality of His Monotheism. Even though God appeared in a burning bush and made His presence visibly apparent on top of a mountain, the Jewish people, who had been rescued from Egypt by this same God, who had been fed and guided by this God through the desert, continued to sin against Him.
Today, we live in a world that has decided God does not exist. Popular culture makes Him the butt of jokes. Those who profess belief in Him get called crazy on national television. We have pushed Him out of our classrooms, out of our social settings, and out of our morality.
So, why are we surprised when bad things happen in this world left without a God when we humans managed to be bad even when God’s presence was awesomely visible and practically irrefutable?
Believing in God is important in part because the only way a human being can hope to be good is by looking up toward an omnipotent, loving Creator who inspires us to a better self. Christ, who came to earth as man and lived a perfect life, a life without sin or flaw, shows us how love trumps hate, how kindness offers more than meanness, how spiritual things bring more value to this life than anything material.
Man in and of himself is incapable of achieving these heights of goodness. We will not share because people should be good. We will not think of higher things if all we have is this world without a next one. I think this fact is one of the reasons socialism has never succeeded. It’s a nice idea to think that people would willingly provide for others who do not or cannot work as hard as they do, but the reality is much different, especially when the leaders of these movements are often the worst offenders.
But Jesus is not one to do what human leaders do. He does not demand any part of me that He does not deserve. In fact, He could demand much, much more. He loves me even though I make mistakes. He gave His life for my salvation even knowing all the times I was going to disappoint Him in this journey to heaven we call life.
Morality based on the limits of the human imagination, which sees as its ultimate culmination only humanity itself, is a failed morality. But walking in goodness because we respect our God/Creator and also love Him has every reason to succeed. He made us with a desire to seek Him, a desire which helps us reach higher than ourselves, to achieve what we could never achieve if we were left to our own devices, a goodness that honors a pure and holy God.