It's claimed that two great evangelists were in a theater together. They were good friends and often traveled as a team to preach evangelistic revival meetings. Before the film started, the newsreel played and gave accounts of the holocaust. One man sat in horror before the graphic images on the screen and could only doubt God's goodness. The other man saw the pictures and could only see a greater need for the Savior. The first was Charles Templeton; the second was Billy Graham.
Truth be told, Templeton struggled with doubt until he finally declared himself an agnostic in 1957. It may have been the images of the holocaust that started him down this road but there was probably much more involved.
Images on the news, such of the events playing out in Ferguson or Isis slaughtering Christians or wars or abortion or the sexual assault of children or human trafficking give us a glimpse of the deep darkness that resides within mankind. 'Depravity' it is often labeled. And as we see such depravity it should--if we're honest--show us the potential blackness of our own hearts. If it were possible for a news camera to examine our souls, we would see equal, if not greater atrocities with us, only waiting for the chance to rage onward. The Bible calls this darkness sin.
We are faced with a choice. Do we see this depravity and then doubt God's goodness or do we see this depravity and proclaim a greater need for Jesus?
First, we ought not be surprised by the depravity of mankind. We see it throughout the Bible. Sometimes we see God intervene directly, but often it is God's people who are empowered by God to bring the redemption of the Gospel through the proclamation of God's Word. We are called to make Christ known because according to John, Jesus is light coming to a dark world, brilliance coming to our blackened hearts. Darkness hates the light and can't remain. The light overpowers the darkness. And Christ, the light, frees us from this darkness. (See John 1, 3, and 12.) Christ is the perfect, sufficient, and only answer to our sin.
Furthermore, God's Word shows us the depth of mankind's sin, so we should not be surprised to see moments when our dark souls come out and play. Quoting the Old Testament, Romans 3:11-12 says, "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one" (ESV). But it does not simply have to end with us thinking man is evil and without hope. There is hope.
Romans 3 continues to show mankind where hope is found. Romans 3:23-25 reads, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith" (ESV). Romans 6:6 says of those who have placed their faith in Christ Jesus, "We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing" (ESV).
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23, ESV).
If we believe that the Bible is God's Word, which I do, than we ought to see Ferguson as a city crying out for help. In that city the depravity has boiled over and can be easily observed. Isis should be more proof of the truth of God's revelation to his creation. The atrocities we observe should remind us of God's explanation of our darkened hearts without him, his condemnation of our sin, and his free offer to bring us to salvation through faith in his son, Jesus Christ.
God help us all! May we see the world turn to Jesus.
* Photo Mstyslav Chernov and is registered under a Creative Commons license.