We Don't Have A Political Problem. We Have A Sin Problem.
Just when we started getting excited for a new year, for a new beginning, a chance to escape the craziness of 2020, a group of people stormed the U.S. Capitol building as Congress worked to finalize the results of the presidential election. However you may feel about the election results, you have to admit that the actions that took place on January 6th were shocking. “Is this really happening? But this is America!” Similar thoughts swirled in the minds of many people as we watched the footage from Washington.
At the same time, the sad fact of the matter is that this kind of behavior is becoming more and more prevalent throughout our country. I’m sure we all remember the recent riots that took place in major cities throughout the US. Without commenting on the reasons behind the events of last summer, we should be able to recognize that much of what took place as “protest” was indeed evil, unlawful conduct. What has happened to the United States of America? Perhaps Tom Hanks' memorable line is appropriate: “Houston, we have a problem.”
Now, while it may be evident that we are facing major problems, there is great disagreement over what exactly the problems are and how they should be resolved. From my understanding, it seems like we, as a collective, believe that our major problem is political. That is to say, if we could fix our broken political system, get the right people in office, and pass the right kind of legislation, then everything in our country would be just peachy. This appears to be the basic view of those on either side of the political divide, especially those who are on the extreme right or left.
This is a great test of epistemology. This may be a word you are unfamiliar with, but the concept is simple enough. Epistemology is the theory and study of knowledge. One of the major questions in epistemology is, “How do you know what you know?” In other words, “What is the standard for your belief?” Children intuitively practice epistemology in its basic form by simply asking “why” questions.
So if we as a nation are going to say that our main issue in America is political, I have to ask, “Why do we believe this?” Sure, politics are front and center of everything these days. You cannot turn on the television or open up a social media app without being bombarded with political news. Yet does that give us enough evidence to suggest that political change would solve our current problems?
Here’s the rub. We cannot even find agreement on how to fix our politics. More and more, our major political parties move further away from one another, polarizing their views and their constituents. Not only is there major disagreement, but the way the disagreement is espoused is utterly repugnant. Gone are the days when one could respect another person from a differing view and political party. Consider the outrage that occurred after a friendly hug between Lindsey Graham (Republican) and Dianne Feinstein (Democrat) after a committee hearing. Instead of being seen as a gesture of kindness and respect, many viewed this as political heresy.
Friends, our core issue, the root and heart of the matter, is not primarily political but spiritual. That is, we don’t have a political problem, we have a sin problem. The political mess we find ourselves in is merely a symptom of sin-stained hearts, hearts that are in rebellion against their Creator. It is the sin problem that causes people to break into the Capitol building, to loot businesses, to vandalize property. It is the sin problem that causes people to govern selfishly, to promote ideologies of hate, to spread unfounded lies and rumors. So the answer to our problem will never be found in politics but in what God has done to remedy our sin problem.
What is my epistemological standard? Of course, as a Christian, I must insist that my standard is God’s Word, the Bible. It is only through the infallible, unchanging revelation of God in His Word that human beings can truly understand this world and the mess we constantly find ourselves in. Our very minds are affected by sin, which skews our view of reality, until God steps in and opens the eyes of our heart. The Apostle Paul wrote his final letter to Timothy reminding him that “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), that the words that we have in the Bible are truly the words of God. The human writers, as they pen these words, are only writing as they are permitted and moved by the Spirit of God. Because the Bible is truly God’s word, truly written by Him, it logically follows that the Bible has authority. If the words in Scripture are God’s words, then to disbelieve those words is to disbelieve God. To ignore those words is, fundamentally, to ignore God. So when the Bible speaks, God speaks and we must listen and obey.
What then does the Bible say about sin? The Bible begins by explaining how man was created very good by God, but man fell into a state of sin. The Bible clearly states that sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). Therefore, any failure on the part of man to uphold or conform to any part of God's law, whether in thought, word, or deed, is sin. Sin is mankind's attempt to be his own god. Sin is loving ourselves and our evil desires above God (Romans 1:25). Does any of this sound familiar? It should, because this is what brings about all the wickedness and evil we see in this world.
You don’t have to believe me, that is your prerogative as a citizen of the United States (at least as of now), but I would encourage you to consider what I say. True change doesn’t come because of force or argument, but because one has a change of heart. If sin is the real problem, as I believe it is, then the only way to change is by the heart-changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sin is our problem and Christ is our solution. So I will not simply complain about politics and all of the other issues that are outside of my control. Rather, I intend to spend my time pointing people to our true need. What will you do?