"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Once again, the myth is shattering. The last half of the 20th century said hope was in humanity. So much we destroyed in World War II we rebuilt. We said to the defeated, "You can begin again! Do not exist in despair! See the world differently!" We said to ourselves, "Surely everyone has learned the value and joy of peace!"

We declared to the world, "Help us sustain our wonderful culture, and we will learn things that will bless everyone. We are not bad! We share! If the world lets us, we will be Santa Claus to everyone. The world would be a much worse place if it did not have us!"

We declared, "People are basically good; only a few are not. However, good people always will prevail in any society anywhere. If they adopt our values, good is certain!"

We believed science was a wonderful savior. It produced wonderful knowledge. It produced fabulous discoveries and inventions. It made possible things undreamed of decades ago.

Then we were introduced to people who believe there are values more important than peace. We met people who do not believe in our goodness or trust us. We came to know people who believe we reject divine authority and are not dedicated to virtue. Instead, they see us as materialists, or pleasure worshippers, or those who use power selfishly, or those who use technology more quickly to destroy than to help, or those who care more about their lifestyle than they care about people.

What began as a slow process is now a deepening realization -- many people in the world just do not like us. Some think they do the world a favor when they kill us. Constantly we are reminded that evil is real. Increasingly, we are aware that we (as a people) are more likely to be remembered for the hurt we cause instead of the good we do. In fact, many say we do good only if our good is self-serving.

We are sobered as we realize that hope in peace is misplaced hope; hope in humanity is misplaced hope; hope in science is misplaced hope; hope in an incredible lifestyle is misplaced hope; and hope in "the goodness of our culture" is misplaced hope.

The only real, enduring hope is hope in the God who knew us at our worst and still loved us. How much did He love us? He loved us enough to give us a Savior to rescue us from evil and ourselves.

Did He love us because we deserve His love? Absolutely not! His love for us comes from His nature, not from our deservedness. Because He is God, He did for us what we never would do for someone like us.

Can we ever transform this world into a "heavenly" existence? To believe we can and will is to be a victim of our own deception! Can we live with the God who, knowing we were sinners, gave us a Savior! Certainly! Therein is hope!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 24 October 2004

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