There’s a gem of wisdom I’ve gleaned over decades of my life experience, plus from observing the lives and experiences of people I know, in addition to extensive research. I have condensed my conclusion into two words. Ready for it?
There. In two words. The truth about people.
Profound but true. The Bible describes our hearts as and (Jeremiah 17:9).
I reflected on the fact that people suck a few days ago. In a single day the following happened: I had agreed to give a friend a ride to the airport at 3:30am on a work day morning. I hauled my sleep-deprived self out of bed, but when I arrived at his house to pick him up he wasn’t ready.
When I finally got back home after dropping him off, I struggled to sleep. Then when I was at work that same day another friend promised to come see me at the office at 1:00pm during my designated lunch hour, but he didn’t turn up until close to the time for my 2pm meeting.
This meant I missed having lunch. I had planned to leave work at 6pm that day but had to wait for a ride from a co-worker, who didn’t leave work until 6:30pm - 30 minutes later than the time we’d agreed. I finally ate a handful of peanuts at 6:30pm (my only meal since breakfast), before rushing to the gym for a class at 7pm, where my energy was low.
During the workout I thought about how people sometimes don’t do what they say they will do and that people suck.
Yes, I know about people’s capacity for good, truth, love, beauty and justice. And you are probably saying to yourself that you are a good person. You never jay-walk, tell little lies when it’s convenient (“), never cut people off in traffic, never break the speed limit, curse people out, disappoint people, lose your cool nor break your word.
That said, people still suck. You and I included. This week I saw a disturbing video of a baby in a high seat being repeatedly smacked in the face by an adult. It was heartbreaking and disturbing. The poor kid was bawling, not understanding why he was being hit. People are capable of evil things, including tremendous abuse.
There is a spectrum of evil, of course. You may not be a mass-murderer or rapist or abuser but we all fall short of what God’s standard is: perfection.
The Bible says if we say we have no sin, we are liars (1 John Chapter 1 verse 8).
I suck. I have let people down. And even in my judgment of those friends I mentioned just now, I wasn’t being fair. The friend who I gave the airport ride to has done early morning airport lifts and pickups for me countless times.
The friend who was to come at 1pm was going to help me with something and got tied up finishing a work project with a tight deadline. He had offered to buy me lunch and I declined. The friend from work who was to give me a ride at 6pm was only doing that so that I didn’t have to walk alone in the darkness to my car which had been parked some distance away from the building. In being judgemental, I mess up.
The gospel in five words
Here’s the gospel in five words: People suck but Jesus doesn’t.
Jesus is perfection. We don’t have to be. The gospel is about accepting that Jesus paid for all our sins, once and for all. And out of that acknowledgement, living life differently. Living in a way that honours him. Walking away from sin, aiming to be like Jesus and being able to do so through the Holy Spirit’s power in us.
The obligation on all Christians in four words
So, what should a Christian do?
Here’s our obligation in four words: Love people. Love God.
It’s that simple. Accept people, with all their faults. Love them anyway. Forgive. Seek God’s forgiveness for your own sins and live for Him.