March 10, 2014

If you were to ask me what my least favorite subject was in Jr. High, or High School I wouldn’t hesitate… HISTORY! And frankly I didn’t know one kid who did like history. It didn’t help that most of our teachers stood in front of the room and mindlessly lectured on things that happened when they were young like the Roman Empire and other almost current events. Well okay, they weren’t’ that old but it sure seemed like they were WAY out of touch with young people.

In one of the great ironies of my life I ended up teaching Ancient History to 9th graders in a prep school north of Boston, Massachusetts. In case you didn’t know, 9th graders wake up in the morning wondering who exactly were the Persians; how did the Babylonians got those hanging gardens; and what really happened to end the Roman Empire? And of course this says nothing of the Macedonians and the Greeks! Goodness, can anything be more compelling to a young person?! Uh… yeah… most things actually, including root canals, are more desirable to Middle School and High School students than sitting in a history class.

Well… things change. I’m certainly older now… not sure about wiser or smarter but… In my adult life I have grown to appreciate history and the events that cause us to be who we are. I appreciate my own family history, and I am fascinated by world history. Tragically too many of us don’t care about our family history until it is too late and those who came before us are gone. We don’t realize that our parents and grandparents are great repositories of our past… but I digress.

I read a book several years ago entitled “D-Day” by Stephen E. Ambrose. It recounts the events leading up to and including the allied forces landing at Normandy on June 6, 1944; the event that turned the tide in the Second World War in Europe. There is not room here to give much information regarding that day but suffice it to say it was one of the bloodiest days of the war for Americans and our allies. Many of the young men who hit the beaches that day were 17 and 18 years old. Ambrose recounted numerous stories of these teenagers who were missing their senior proms to be at Normandy, or who had lied about their age to enter the military early. When he wrote about the death of a number of these young people my mind would go to this thought, “Oh my, how tragic this had to be for his wife and children.” Then I would sadly realize, “They never had a wife or children! They didn’t live that long!” Every war in human history has the same stories… the stories of young men… teenagers… going to war never to come home again. The landscapes in many countries in the world are littered with cemeteries, filled with the remains of mere boys killed in war.

Tragically one of the mistakes we have made over and over again throughout human history is to romanticize war. To present it in such a way that young men WANT to go off to another country with a really cool weapon and defend their honor, their families and their country. And there is no doubt there have been many situations throughout history where it seems that there were no other options. I believe the Second World War was one of those events.

But why do these events occur? And why do we have places in the world where hatred and mistrust have been fostered for centuries if not millennia like the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe? (And this doesn’t even mention the tribal warfare that goes on in remote places in the world.) I mean places where people are born to hate those who live across a border from them. Why? I think from a Christian perspective the answer is simple – the world and human beings are broken. We are not who God designed us to be. We do not do the things that God designed us to do. Love and forgiveness are foreign concepts to us.

There are those who think that we are born “good” but our world corrupts us. And there are those who think we are born with an “inclination” toward sin. I don’t believe either of those. I think we are born in and with sin. It isn’t just something we do. Sin is built into our systems. Not originally of course, but after the sin of Adam.

Romans 5: Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

18 Consequently, just as one trespass (the sin of Adam) resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

I hope you notice that there is good news included in those verses. Yes, we are broken and sinful because of the sin of Adam. BUT, there is grace through the One who overcame sin on our behalf! There is the possibility of righteousness… i.e. “right standing” before God because of what happened on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The sin that plagues us because of Adam is paid for by the Son. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!!

Yes, humanity is broken… but that can be overcome. Of course it only happens through Jesus Christ. Sooooo… if we as human beings don’t overcome our brokenness… this is just a guess… I’m thinking that Jesus is lacking someplace in our lives.

As you look at your life. And you look at your broken condition. Where is Jesus in the midst of it all?


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