I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the craziness going on in our world. Bear with me on this post, as it’s a little bit longer than normal!
We’re in the middle of an election season where many view the race as a choice between the two least bad candidates.
We’re experiencing tragic shootings, regardless of fault, that seem to be ripping our country apart.
We have the scourge of terrorism affecting us here in the United States and in many countries around the world. Over 100 incidents have occurred in the month of September.
I tend to pay quite a bit of attention to what’s going on in the world, whether it be politics, international news, or other things. With that comes a healthy dose of people’s opinions about why all of these things are happening.
One of the most used arguments for the way things are in the world has to do with what I call poverty of circumstance. Secretary of State John Kerry blamed terrorism on poverty, calling it the “root cause”.
The argument basically goes like this: Because “x” person grew up in “y” circumstances, it led them to take “z” action.
Now, this may be partially true. There has always been the “nature vs. nurture” argument for why people do what they do. People’s external influences play a large role in determining who a person becomes.
While all of that may be true, it ignores the most basic truth: Every human being is born with poverty of heart.
No matter whether someone is rich or poor, educated or uneducated, from North America or Asia, black or white, or any other defining characteristic, we are ALL born with poverty of heart.
Psalm 51:5 says, “For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”
Romans 3:23 states, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
Now, track with me here. In today’s world, there is much debate between cause and correlation.
Cause simply means that one thing causes another to happen. Correlation simply means that two things happen (together), but one is not necessarily the cause of the other.
So, in most arguments, people believe that poverty of circumstance CAUSES all sorts of evil in the world. Others would argue that there is a correlation between the two, meaning that we tend to see poverty of circumstance in the same places (or people) where evil is perpetrated.
I would differ with both of those viewpoints and add a third. I will call this one context.
I believe that it’s important to understand the context in which someone becomes the person they are, without making that circumstance out to be the cause or a direct correlation.
Let’s use terrorism as an example. If someone can be rich or poor and become a terrorist, it would be hard to say that terrorism is caused by poverty. Also, we would have a hard time making a correlation between the two, because rich and poor are distinctly different, while leading to the same result (terrorism).
But, what is worth taking a look at is context. What is the person’s context (their influences, beliefs, circumstances, etc.) that contribute to making the person who they are? And, most importantly, how does that context play into the poverty of heart that already exists inside of that person?
I believe the main cause for all of the evil in the world, no matter where it’s found or who commits it, is poverty of heart. There is no greater cause than a heart that is desirous of doing wrong. Now, the context for each person’s evil actions is different and may have some amount of influence on that particular person. But, it is not the primary influence.
Understanding the context is important, but it should never replace the simple belief that evil actions are produced from an evil heart. There is no greater cause of evil in the world than the evil that already exists inside a person’s heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
While we must work in society to have justice, we must never forget that no government or private institution has the power to change the human heart – only God can do that. While we try to alleviate poverty, we must not blame poverty for violence…we must do the hard work leading people with love to a changed heart.
For this reason, our hope must never be placed in political figures, business leaders, government directors, celebrities, or any other person or group.
Our hope must always be placed in Jesus!
In fact, I think part of the reason our political system has produced the two principal candidates we have is because for too long people on both the right and the left have looked to their political leaders as their saviors or America’s saviors.
Let me be clear: America doesn’t need a savior. America, while a great nation, does not need one political representative to somehow change the course of our nation. When we place our hope in one person to change whatever it is we want changed, we are already doomed.
The only thing that changes America is changed hearts of those who live in this country.
And, the only thing that changes people’s hearts is Jesus.
This is why the church is so important. There is no greater tool in Jesus’ toolbox than his church. While Jesus is the Instigator of change, he causes that change through the church.
So, what am I trying to say with this post? I’m probably saying quite a few things, but most of all, it’s this: The biggest problems we face in the world today are caused by poverty of heart. The greatest solution to poverty of heart is spreading the light and love of Jesus.
I encourage you to be as big a Jesus person as you can be in the world today. That is what people need. That is what our country needs. And, that is what this world is desperately longing for.