Faces on Faith: Hope for humanity cannot ultimately come from humanity
Now I know why everyone scrunches up their faces when they talk about red tide — that algae bloom which releases toxins into the water and air. It turns the ocean to the color of split pea soup, litters the beach with dead fish and makes people wheeze. I usually walk my poodle and talk to God on the beach before sunrise. But lately we’ve been sticking to the neighborhood roads to prevent me from coughing and my dog from chewing desiccated mackerel. To put it scientifically, red tide is super gross.
We had a gross week in the United States as well. The images of protesters breaking into the U.S. Capitol building were distressing. And they came at the end of a year full of protests, riots and destruction.
Shouldn’t we be beyond this? Hasn’t humanity progressed?
The Bible helps us by giving a realistic perspective on human nature. On the one hand, the Bible affirms that all people are made in the image of God. All people have inherent dignity and worth. On the other hand, the Bible bluntly confronts us with our sin. The image of God has been besmirched and spoiled by disbelief and disobedience to God. Great good and terrible evil flow intermingled from our government, our culture, our technology, our families and our hearts.
It’s like the tension of the sea during red tide. The ocean is lovely, but it’s been saturated with a poison. The fish that wash up are beautiful. And they’re rotting.
When we come to grips with the fundamental contradiction of the human condition, we better appreciate the glimpses of glory in ourselves and others, and more humbly admit our depravity.
Furthermore, this tension should cause us to realize that hope for humanity can’t ultimately come from humanity. We can’t finally or fully fix ourselves, because our sin is systemic, like toxins in the water. We need a solution from outside of us, an answer beyond government, technology or self-help strategies. We need rescue from the one who made the sea and all that swim in it.
And that’s the other big news in the Bible: he who is the perfect image of God — because he is God — took on our humanity, died for our depravity and conquered it all by rising from the dead. The one who died and rose can cleanse the most polluted and bring the dead to life.
Pastor Jeramie Rinne is the senior pastor at the Sanibel Community Church.