(April 04, 2020) Brian Bell asks the question above…
In my mid-teens I was studying for what was then an ‘O’ level in English Literature. In the process of that study I had to read William Golding’s book Lord of the Flies.
If you have read the novel or are familiar with it from some other source (such as the film version) then bear with me; however, for those who are not familiar let me give you a very brief summation…
The novel is set on an unknown, unnamed island on which a plane, carrying a group of choir boys, has crashed and none of the adults survive. It then describes how the boys form separate groups and their behaviour begins to disintegrate.
Two of the boys are Ralph and another referred to as ‘Piggy’ – as the process of disintegration takes place, Piggy asks Ralph the question, ‘What makes things break up like they do?’
It was this question of Piggy’s which at that time in my life led me to write an essay basically on the topic ‘God is Left Out.’ This was selected for publication in the school year book but its assertion that our brokenness resulted from leaving God out did not, so far as I recall, impress my English teacher, who was rather sceptical.
And so here I am, some 50 years later and ‘What makes things break up like they do’ is still a relevant question!
Why? The world is still disintegrating, presently in the grip of Covid–19. And so I share some brief thoughts on ‘break up’…
- The history of the world reveals uncertainty and instability as nations and empires have formed and collapsed, dynasties and or dictators have sought to be in control.
- Laws to govern society and try to bring some measure of order, including at an international level have been made yet are continually broken.
The situation in which the world finds itself is not a reflection of God’s divine will and purpose. I take a scriptural view that…
- The root cause of all our maladies, in whatever form, all stem from the fall – disobedience – of Adam and Eve as told in Genesis chapter 3.
- Their inheritance to us in successive generations is a ‘sin nature’ – disobedient, selfish, self-centred.
- It is from and because of that nature we find that things break up.
In Romans 3:23 the apostle Paul says ‘the wages of sin is death…’
However, before we reach that final destination, the consequence of our ‘sin nature’ shows itself in…
- Unfaithfulness within marriage and the much heartache this brings.
- God had said what he had created was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31) but after the fall various bad sicknesses/diseases have entered the world… which, for example, in the 14th century was in the form of the terrifying bubonic plague; today we see it in the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Conflict/war which ravages people and fills our city streets with violence – while men once fought with swords and bow and arrow, we now cause awful destruction and death using extremely more powerful weapons.
- It is, I believe, also seen in the way in which laws have been passed allowing babies to be aborted, or permitting relationships which are unnatural – further reflections of our disobedient, selfish and self-centred attitudes.
Yes, there is encouragement! God has a plan of redemption.
As we approach the Easter period we remember afresh the outworking of God’s secret plan – the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who knew no sin (meaning he did not have a ‘sin nature’ nor was he compromised by any ‘act’ of sin). On Calvary Jesus became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, as the Message Bible puts it: ‘We could be put right with God.’
In Jesus I am born again, I receive a ‘new nature’ which will help me to overcome my old sin nature. Now I know there are those who take different views about this, however I am not talking about ‘sinless perfection’ but rather about the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, helping us to work out our salvation daily (Philippians 2:12). As the NLT puts this: ‘Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.’
Sadly God’s secret plan and his righteous rule have not been accepted by our needy world and ‘Break up’ is still around. But God declared in Habakkuk 2:14, ‘For the time will come when all the earth will be filled, as the waters fill the sea, with an awareness of the glory of the Lord.’
I do not believe we are yet at that ‘total’ level of awareness: however, I believe the Lord is continuing to work towards that day, when all we presently know in this broken world will be swept aside, cut off as it were, and the Lord will establish his righteous rule.
As John records in Revelation 21:4, ‘He will remove all of their sorrows and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and all its evils are gone forever.’
That time is also yet to come: One songwriter (Stuart Hamblen © 1958) expresses it in these words –
‘My heart can sing, when I pause to remember,
A heartache here is but a stepping stone,
Along a path that’s winding ever upwards,
This troubled world is not my final home;
But until then, my heart will go on singing,
Until then, with joy I’ll carry on,
Until the day, my eyes behold that city,
Until the day God calls me home.’
Whether you are presently staying and or working at home following whatever restrictions apply where you live; if you are among those who are working in frontline medical care or other essential services, may the Lord –
- Bless and protect you
- Smile on you and be gracious to you
- Show you his favour and give you his peace!
Brian Bell is a diaconate member, Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland, and a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. He describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’ Link: firstname.lastname@example.org