I recently read a story by Ian Thomas that provides great insight into life on earth and the human condition.
Imagine that far out in space, in another galaxy, there is a planet inhabited by intelligent creatures. These creatures and their planet and galaxy were of course fashioned by the God who created everything. But they do not know what God is like, though they possess an insatiable appetite to find out more about Him.
Then one day they detect, through their highly developed forms of intergalactic surveillance, the existence of a planet called Earth. They also make initial discoveries about the human beings who dwell there. Immediately, and with intense excitement, they mobilize their resources to build a spaceship capable of sending a delegation to faraway Earth with the specific goal of going there to learn about God.
Why Earth? Because their initial findings have disclosed the record of what God said when He first created human beings on this planet—that He was making them in His own image and according to His own likeness. Such a revelation is absolutely the most thrilling news these alien beings have ever heard. By getting a close-up view of humanity, they will be getting their first-ever glimpse of God.
With the spaceship completed and a carefully chosen delegation ready to embark, great crowds gather to see them off and wish them well.
After a long voyage across several galaxies, the hearts of every member of this delegation beat faster as Earth comes into view. This beautiful blue planet grows larger and larger as they come closer. “Soon we will see man,” they tell each other, “the creature God made in His perfect image. We will be able to return home with eyewitness knowledge and understanding of what God is really like.”
Slowly and softly their spacecraft makes its landing on Earth … and the alien creatures step out.
They have landed on a vacant lot in a city (much like whatever city you know best). They leave their spacecraft and walk down the nearest street. The first human being they lay eyes upon is a body sprawled on the curb that they have to step over, a drunk (though the aliens do not know about drunkenness) who is lying there in his own vomit. The aliens try talking to him, but the man only moans and rolls over.
Leaving the drunk behind, they turn a corner and suddenly confront two rival groups of young men threatening each other with knives. They have scarred arms and a lifeless stare in their eyes (though the aliens have not learned about drug abuse).
Stunned by this unexpected danger, the aliens turn quickly in a different direction and hear sounds from an open door under a tavern sign, and they enter the safety inside. The few people there ignore them. They have sullen faces as they sit in booths at the room’s shadowy edges.
The sound the aliens were hearing is coming from a television set above the bar, and on the screen someone is announcing the “world news.” The aliens crowd closer to catch a summary of what is happening all around this Earth. The “news” they hear is about terrorist bombers and murderers. It is about corruption in business and government. It is about childish and foolish behavior by celebrities in the realms of entertainment and sports.
The aliens stare in shock at the screen, until one of them turns to the others and says, “Let’s get off this planet. This place stinks.”
With heavy steps they make their way to the spaceship, weighed down by revulsion and disillusionment over this display of God’s character. And on their long, sad journey back, they wrestle with their total loss at knowing how to convey this tragic discovery to their loved ones at home.
From their journey the aliens did not learn what God was like, instead they actually saw what sinful man is like. They expected a garden of Eden, but instead encountered a depraved, broken world.
The reason people’s lives are in such chaos is because of the deterioration of the human condition that comes when people are separated from God. We will never truly understand life on this planet until we understand the breadth of the biblical concept of sin, and what it has done to the human race.
The prophet Jeremiah says that the human heart “is more deceitful than off else, and is desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). This explains all that we see going on in the world today.
This is why many people believe that our future is hopeless. And if what Jeremiah has said is true, it would appear that there is no hope, particularly for my children and grandchildren.
But God does not leave us without hope. He sent us His son, not just to teach us to live good lives, but to transform us. To give us new hearts. The prophet Ezekiel describes what God desires to do in our lives:
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove
the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
I will put My spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful
to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36: 26-27)
You can see that Ezekiel is not talking about religion. The religious attempt to do good in order to win God’s love and approval; for them, is all about the externals. True Christianity focuses on the internal. It is all about the life of God, working in the hearts of men.
This is the world’s only true hope. As the Apostle Paul put it, “It is Christ working in you, and this is the hope of Glory.” (Colossians 1:27)