The entire world is profoundly broken. Everywhere people are ‘messed-up’. Anywhere one goes, whether it is school, work, home and even church, there is institutional brokenness expressed in systems or organizing structures that contain elements of bondage instead of freedom. It does not take a Christian to observe and know that things just do not seem right.
The Bible’s description of this reality goes back to the fall of humanity. Satan, the devil, led the original persons, Adam and Eve, into disobedience of God. Satan tempted Eve to doubt whether God really had her best interests at mind; to question the truthfulness of God’s Word; and, to wonder about the wisdom of listening to God (Genesis 3:1-5). Adam just flat out chose to disobey God, and, so, the entire world changed (Genesis 3:16-17).
Immediately, everything was different in the world and with people. The choice to disobey God brought feelings of fear and shame; a loss of fellowship with God; hiding from God; a bent to pervert the truth; the propensity for the genders to try and dominate each other; expulsion from the garden; and, physical death (Genesis 3:7-24). That is quite a list of downright icky stuff. No wonder the world is messed up.
The fall of humanity still affects us all. It has brought not only physical death, but spiritual death. That means we are alienated from God, in rebellion against him, and enslaved to our own passions and desires (Isaiah 1:2-6; Romans 2:14-15; Ephesians 2:1-3). We are alienated from one another as persons by having continual bents toward discord, suspicion, and jealousy instead of love and trust (Romans 1:29-31; James 3:14-16). We are even alienated and totally out of touch with ourselves by either loving ourselves as gods or hating ourselves with inordinate emotional masochism (Philippians 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:2-4). In short, we are selfish people who experience separation from God, others, and self.
If this is the true reality of humanity, then it is depressing, discouraging, and damaging. Who, then, will rescue us from this death? Thanks to God who has given us victory through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:57). The good news is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus the curse has been reversed. He has brought us restoration to our original place of fellowship with God. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Only through him is there hope for humanity (John 14:6). Freedom, therefore, involves knowledge, honesty, and sincere decisions of faith and love whereby truth is applied to life.
Jesus offered himself for us so that we might live and no longer be separated from God, others, and self. He has brought us reconciliation. In him we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (2 Corinthians 5:16-19; Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3). Jesus is the rightful ruler of the universe, and is able to make all things work together for good in the life of his people (Philippians 2:9-11; Romans 8:28-29).
The essence, spirit, and purpose of church ministry, therefore, is to come alongside people trapped in their cycles of brokenness and tell them of the good news of Jesus to deliver from all the crud. Anything short of this is not really Christian ministry; it is just doing stuff. The church is, then, to call out sin where it resides in sinful structures and not only within individuals. But we are to do this with all the graciousness that behooves children of God, and always with the remedy of the cross of Christ.
Yes, the world is terribly askew. But God demonstrated his love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We need a Savior. God provided One. Jesus is the answer. Are you in touch with the ways you are separated from God, others, and self? Are you aware of the ways in which your church has an unhealthy separation from the world? In what ways can you and your church apply the love of God to broken people and systems in your community? What will it take to reach the un-churched and de-churched in your families and neighborhoods?
Having the church ask the right questions is the first step toward bringing true Christian ministry to bear upon the great need of the world. Don’t express your fallen nature by wasting your time debating personal preferences in the church; spend your energies and prayers in reaching people for Jesus. The fall does not have to define us; we can get back up again because of Jesus Christ.