Human Nature

Posted: April 16, 2015 in Article, Think THRU Faith, Think WITH Faith
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In the wake of the recent tragedies we have witnessed lately (school shootings, extreme bullying, kidnappings, etc.), I have heard many comments made along the lines of “How could someone do such a thing?”, “I’m amazed at the evil some people commit.”, “I don’t understand what makes a person do that”, etc.

I have also heard words thrown around like “psychopath”, “crazy”, and “mental illness.”

While this may explain some of why this specific person committed this specific act of evil at this specific time and place, it fails to explain the deeper reasons as to why a person, any person, would do something so horrible.

We wrap ourselves in this perception of people being better than they really are. Here in America we live in such comfort, in a country where basic morality and decency (while greatly eroded) is still a majority held view. We don’t live under a military dictator. Canada’s not launching missiles into our cities. Mexico’s not sending suicide bombers across the border. It is easy for us to white wash the reality of human nature.

I recently saw a post on Facebook with a quote by Nelson Mandela, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

It’s a great thought, and I’m sure it does wonders for encouraging people. It is very motivational, but it’s simply not true. While we may have to be taught to hate a specific trait (color, background, religion) “love” does not “come more naturally to the human heart.”

Yet this is what we tell ourselves over and over again in our movies, our stories, our relationships, even our churches. And then we white-wash over reality with a superficially “moral” society and do the spiritual equivalent of sticking our fingers in our ears and humming real loud.

But what does the bible tell us about human nature, about the human heart? What does God explain comes more naturally to us?

Romans 3:23
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

In Genesis 6:5, Noah is told that God is going to flood the world in judgment because in the time since creation the entire human race had become wicked: “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”

Jeremiah 17:9
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

The very basis of Christianity, and the entire teaching of the bible (and therefore reality since it is true) is that we are essentially flawed and corrupt!

Romans 1:30 described people who actually “invent ways of doing evil.” Good old fashioned lying and thieving wasn’t doing it for them. They had to come up with new ways to inflict wickedness upon themselves.

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden isn’t just a nice story. It is the very reason and explanation of why everything in this world is so messed up, why we have evil. Romans 5:12sin entered the world through one man.” Adam!

And since we’re all descended from Adam, we all bear the corruption that his sin brought.

Stop and think about it. Love is not the most natural thing that comes to a human heart. Selfishness is! Babies are not taught the concept of “Give me! Give me! Give me!” No. We have to teach them that it’s ok, often good, to not get exactly what you want when you want it.

It may not manifest in “hate” or “violent acts”, but each and every one of us have in our hearts the very same corrupt, selfish, sinful nature that leads some to commit violent tragedies like in Colorado … or the sick deeds done at Penn State.

We want to recoil from that thought and say, “No! Not me! I’m a good person.” But if we look, even at our own definition of what is “good” we see that we fail miserably.
How much more do we fail God’s standard?

Every one of us, from Mother Teresa to Stalin to Martin Luther King Jr to Bob the plumber with a great family and loving friends, we all have within us the capacity for vile evil deeds.

But our selfishness doesn’t have to manifest in extreme examples. We might lie to our boss to cover a mistake. Maybe its just a small bit of road rage. Maybe we flirt with that attractive co-worker … it’s not like you’re “really” cheating. Do you drive through the “nice” neighborhoods or “window shop” at car lots wondering when you’ll get to have something nice?

James 2:10 says, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”

That’s why Jesus had to come and die on the cross and be raised three days later. There is no way our desperately wicked (corrupt, selfish, pride filled) hearts could ever earn God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

And if we cannot come to terms with the reality of our own selfishness and sinfulness, how can we ever humble ourselves and be forgiven?

That shooter you see on the news may have been troubled, crazy, mentally ill or a psychopath. But those are just the surface motivations for this particular deed. His real problem, the cause of such a vile act, is the same selfish, corrupt, sinful heart that lives in each of us.

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