Over the last seven years I have listened to a lot of students. In conversation through five big ideas of the Gospel and the Christian worldview, I ask the question “How do we know our relationships are broken? What have you seen and observed about relationships with people, the stuff of earth, and self that indicate these relationships are infected with brokenness?”
More often than not these days, people are struggling to answer the question. From my perspective it seems they are struggling more than they did seven years ago. I wait out the struggle and make a few suggestions and by and by we make some progress with the topic. But I’m troubled.
While there may be several sources for the general reluctance of my companions to identify what’s wrong with the world, at the end of the day, I think its a general reluctance to go on the record as saying, “That’s wrong.” “That’s wrong” or “That’s broken” sounds so sure and confident. Our global-traveling, urban-living, culture-crossing people, are not sure they’ve got the corner truth on what’s wrong in the world. And that’s ok, because if the only authoritative source for what is wrong is yourself, you’ve got to be pretty confident.
But what is not alright is the lack of access to any moral authority beyond themselves. I’m not even hearing my companions call upon the rule of law, the graceful creative vision of a society to implement rules, as a nod toward something outside of themselves.
From the Christian worldview, the Law, revealed in the Scripture, is a gift from God. Not only does it stimulate for us a vision of what life with God could look like, it creates a vision of what a people incarnating God’s love looks like. The Law is a companion bringing us to the Cross of Christ. For without the Law as revealed in Scripture, the Cross of Christ would lack meaning. The Law can bring us outside the oppression of self and gift us with a cognitive capacity to say, “That’s wrong.”
However, the Law is powerless to invoke complete righteousness and grant perfect justice. Its through the Law that we learn God’s grace is required. Its through the Gospel that grace is applied to us.
While my companions in Gospel conversations are reluctant to go on the record as saying, “That’s wrong,” I’m noticing as well that all kinds of people are struggling to recognize elements of our brokenness: lying, theft and adultery; abuse, torture and murder; neglect and contempt. Perhaps that’s a symptom of not really knowing God.