5 responses to badness
I’m so bad. I may look pretty good but when I or anyone look close enough, I’m really pretty bad. My selfish self is dreadful and demanding, and ugly. But I nurture and obey it anyway. I seek my comfort and prefer my desires and favor my needs. I’m very good to my self…and that’s why I’m bad.
Can anyone relate? I think it’s probably safe to say multitudes can. And that we respond to the recognition of our badness in one or more of at least five ways.
- We pretend we never saw it. And we resolve to ignore it if ever dares to raise its ugly head again.
- We disregard it because we are disinterested in it and undisturbed by it. We don’t care.
- We do care and resolve to do better and be better and balance out our badness with goodness.
- We resign ourself to its unpleasant reality and ascribe to a belief system that promises its eventual eradication through secular humanism or reincarnation and karma.
- We throw ourselves on the mercy of God and receive his complete forgiveness, as well as his very Spirit which empowers us to really be good.
Which response we choose is largely dependent on our worldview, one that addresses the big questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. Is our existence the result of random chance? Then one is perfectly rational in indifference. Is our destiny dependent on a God with a cosmic scale? Then we’re going to work hard until we’re relatively confident our good deeds outweigh our bad. Hopefully.
Have we found faith in an all-powerful, loving God to be irrational because of the reality of suffering and evil in the world, and the often unloving attitudes and deeds of his professed followers? Then a rejection of theism seems a coherent response. But if rationality and coherence are valued, your atheistic worldview should be expected to exhibit both. Do you have good evidence for what you believe? Do you have an objective standard to determine what is “right”? Do you have a viable explanation for how anything came to be without a transcendent creator?
I don’t like being confronted with my own badness. But my Christian worldview, based on good physical and philosophical evidence, gives me a clear and coherent explanation for its persistent presence as well as an eternal plan for victory over it. I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” by a God who loves me and desires my love in return. So he gave me a precious but dangerous gift, one that if used in submission to him would bring me joy and fulfillment on earth and eternal bliss in Heaven. But if used without regard for him would result in pain, distress, grief and suffering for me, as well as grief for him. And could separate me forever from him and the happiness I was created for.
Your badness and mine persist because WE persist in abusing the gift of our free will. We too often use it to serve our selves instead of serving God by loving him and loving our neighbor. But he knew we would and because of his great love for us forgives us when we recognize our badness and submit to him in faith. Then he unites his Spirit with ours giving us power to refuse to obey our self’s selfish demands. But that power has to be appropriated by our will which remains free to choose the self.
There are those whose lives exhibit the selflessness God desires who will yet be eternally separated from him because they thumb their nose at and refuse the remedy he has provided for their sin, because we’ve all been bad at some time, and will be again. And there are those who are far too often selfish but will be where he is eternally because they have humbled themselves in faith and trust and said, “yes, please” to the remedy. To some this is the paradoxical capriciousness of an unjust God. But in truth it is the merciful provision of a loving Savior who entered into our very bad world to suffer and die for our good. And who doesn’t require perfect obedience…only true, trusting faith.