Why The Bible Explains Life Better than You Think
Look around. Seriously, wherever you are right now I want you to look around.
Maybe you’ll see the people in your family, maybe you will see a TV with news coverage. Maybe you’re alone in your office, do you see uncompleted tasks or do you see accomplished work?
Chances are, from your seat – right this minute, you can see things that are beautiful as well as things that are broken.
There is something of such incredibly beauty and majesty around you that if you let yourself think about it, it could make you go weak in the knees. Your spouse perhaps, who once made you go weak in the knees but not so much anymore? That, by the way, would be something that’s just not quite right. If like most married people, you feel less love rather than more for your spouse over the years, that’s broken. It shouldn’t be that way.
That’s just one tiny example. The world, life, and your line of sight right this minute are filled with a complex mixture of awe inspiring beauty and horrific ugliness.
C.S. Lewis has said that every person has the potential for such glory that if you saw them now as they might be, you would be tempted to fall down and worship. And yet, these beings with this unbelievable potential for glory also commit the most horrific atrocities known to man. We human beings create holocausts even while we are repulsed by them. We also create art that can move hearts for centuries.
This is stupid. I mean think about it, what the heck can account for this utterly strange condition? We know beauty, we long for beauty, we are moved by beauty and repulsed by ugliness, and yet the worst and ugliest things in all of history have been created by man.
One answer is atheism. The worldview of educated atheists is that we are only here to pass on our DNA. One day the sun will explode and all will end if humanity has not yet found a way to spread our DNA beyond this solar system. We arose out of the primordial ooze and we will someday return to it if the solar system returns to a place where life can thrive again. We are merely animals.
But here is my struggle with that. Not only can we create beauty, we long for it. We ache with a hunger that cannot be explained for things to be better than this. If we were simply animals made to pass along a double helix I don’t think we would have this innate longing for something better than. We are able to look at something and say “that is not right.” This is a higher function, we can imagine a world that is, by our own definition better than the one we inhabit.
A different answer is common in church pews. The common western worldview (which has by the way been informed by bad “christian” theology) is that we should live out our lives here as comfortably as we can and then one day it will all burn up and we get to sit on clouds and play the harp all day. Putting aside for a minute that nothing would make me more unhappy than constant harp music, let me tell you what bothers me about that worldview.
First of all it doesn’t work for all Christians. There are an estimated 3.8 million Christians in North Korea. Let’s talk about what it means for them to live as comfortably as possible until they get a harp. There is something horribly unjust in that sort of theology.
Christians who don’t think this world matters are implying that these horrific things are relatively insignificant since “it’s all gonna burn anyway.”
There is a better worldview. A story that makes sense of the whole thing. A story that explains why we live in a world filled with both beauty and brokenness. A story that explains both the discontentment and the longing in our hearts.
Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration
The world was created by a good creator with good intentions and a promising future. This explains the longing in my heart (and I’m betting yours too) for something good. We were made for a promising life, for goodness and beauty. In short we are designed for wholeness.
That first panel above shows a good creation, a living tree, surrounded by fruit and life.
The Bible says that after God finished his creating he said it was all “Very Good.”
When I turn on the news I have a hard time seeing anything that is “very good.” In fact I am hard pressed to find things that are sorta good. I find things that have potential, and things that might be very good, if it weren’t for certain broken parts.
This is the fall. Brokenness entered into creation when humanity decided that trusting their creator wasn’t the best thing. They believed that they could do better with their lives than he could.
The second panel illustrates the loss of this wholeness. Suddenly nothing is “very good” anymore. Their relationships with their creator and even with each other is suddenly interrupted. Wholeness is no longer an option in this panel.
Read Genesis chapter three. We are told that humans inherit a broken existence and even death because of this.
But the third panel is hopeful. Even in Genesis three there are hints of this hope. God, in the midst of explaining the consequences of brokenness to the people, also tells them that he will fix it one day.
Most of the bible is the story of God fixing their brokenness. Some people will tell you the bible is instructions for getting to heaven. These people are dead wrong. Some people will say it is basic rules for living, they are also terribly mistaken. Make no mistake. The only way to understand the Bible is this: It is the story of human fragility combined with God’s desire, ability and plan to restore screwed up people to an even better situation than they started with.
You see, without the fall, we were headed someplace. To something better. But now instead of being better, it’s actually worse. And without the intervention of the Creator, there is absolutely no hope of it getting better. If you doubt that, watch the news for a few minutes. But in spite of us, the creator still plans to bring that about.
The final panel shows a world that is fuller and more beautiful than even the beginning.
If you look around and notice what is broken. If you look inside yourself and see a mess. I want to encourage you to consider the biblical worldview. Consider this story. Does it make sense of your life? Does it explain your brokenness and your hope?
The coming of Jesus into Creation is the climax of the story, the final hope that the creator himself (not us) is going about setting things right.
This is a story that can only be believed when we have come to believe that we are incapable of fixing this mess on our own. It is the story we are learning to believe and the only one that explains the heartache while still giving us hope for a future.
If this appeals to you, I want to encourage you to find a place that believes this story and try to hold on to this hope in the midst of the brokenness you see around you.