Overnight an inch or two of snow fell, covering everything with a glistening white blanket. Yesterday, the landscape was brown and drab. Every discarded beer can along the roadway was visible, today all is hidden.
Snow hides ugliness whether it be a rusting tractor, garbage along a country road, an abandoned factory, or the toxic tailings from an old mine. Then the temperature rises. Ugliness rises again to blight the landscape.
As humans we are adept at disguising reality. We decorate the surface of our persons with facelifts, hair transplants, and designer clothing. Companies fund research facilities to find new ways to improve our appearance. We borrow to buy upscale cars and upscale homes so we can pretend to be one of the hoi paloi.
Ingrained in our societies is the drive to camouflage reality. We disguise our frightening debt beneath a mumbo-jumbo of terminology. We blame others for our own choices— our parents and our government. We order research studies and Royal Commissions. We appoint committees to come up with solutions. But the root problems remain: selfishness, addiction, irresponsibility, dishonesty, evil within the heart of mankind. What we need is what happened during the Reformation and the Evangelical Revivals.
Jeremiah knew that you can’t paper over a national problem with platitudes, by crying, ” peace, peace, when there is no peace.” (See Jer. 6:14) Ezekieh realized that humans cannot be mended until God does radical surgery. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ez. 36:26).
As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, “You must be born again”(John 3:7). Only the redeeming influence of the Holy Spirit who applies the blood of Christ to the inner fountains of our motivation can make us new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Cor.5:17)! It is these new men and women as they gradually become kind, thoughtful, loving, forgiving, patient and creative citizens who contribute to renewed societies.
I’m not saying that Christian conversion solves all problems. But expecting honest politicians and athletes and business people to just morph from the raw material of humanity is wishful thinking. The main problems of societies are moral and motivational. Convincing people about the transforming power of the gospel is the best way to contribute to good communities.