Twice in the last week or so, snowstorms have covered everything with a glistening white blanket. Before the snow came, the landscape was dingy. 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. The snow melts. Ugliness again becomes visible.
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 upper crust.
Our societies value camouflaging reality. We disguise our frightening debt beneath a mumbo-jumbo of economic terminology. We blame others for our own choices— our parents or our government. We order research studies and Royal Commissions. We demonize other cultures while ignoring our own flaws. Hide. Disguise. Pretend. Camouflage. Cloak. Masquerade.
But the root problems remain: selfishness, pride, arrogance, addiction, irresponsibility, dishonesty—the pervasive sinfulness of the human heart.
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) Ezekiel 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)! New men and women gradually become kind, thoughtful, loving, forgiving, patient and creative citizens. Transformed individuals contribute to renewed and honest societies where truth matters.
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.
Revivals have demonstrated this fact down through history. Witness the effect of the Reformation on Europe and the Evangelical Revivals on England and America. Toward that end let us live as true followers of Christ and pray for revival.