Page 38 of this week's Eastbourne Herald features a picture of me. At least I think it's me, it could have been. I'm sure it is. If you squint, turn the page 45degrees and go cross eyed you can just about make it out, it's me talking to a group of school kids. I'm famous; at least in the visually impaired community anyway.
I was speaking to a class of secondary school kids about what Christians believe.
It was part of series the school has been running on the religious diversity in Eastbourne. The class had had representatives from the pagan community, Islamic group and Mormon religion and I was there to be the Christian (which is strange because I used to hate the Christians who came into my school to do that - now I'm one of them; I never saw that coming!)
To get them thinking I asked them the question 'what's wrong with the world?' Pollution, terrorism, drugs, war, gang culture... the list went on. Interestingly, none of them said 'nothing' and I can understand why. I think we're all convinced that there's plenty that needs to be done to fix our planet, something's not quite right.
I was trying to explain the concept of sin which is a hugely unpopular (and misunderstood) idea and one that at its mere mention sends people into shut down and switch off mode: outdated, medieval, guilt-inducing, moral bashing are just some of the things that spring to a lot of people's minds when they see that word. 'Christians talk about sin in order to try to make people feel bad' is often what people think.
Interestingly a lot of people think that sin is simply about 'doing wrong things' like not doing the dishes when your mum asks you to, or looking at Heat magazine when you should be reading Shakespeare, that kind of thing. But that doesn't go anywhere near far enough to reach a thorough understanding of why 'sin' is significant to the question 'what's wrong with the world?'
You see the stuff that's wrong with the world is the stuff that the Bible means when it talks about sin. It's the real underlying cause of every evil.
War, genocide, gang-culture, drug abuse, a collapsing economy, broken homes are the saplings and in some cases full grown trees that grow out of the soil that is sin. Rather like how an apple is the fruit of an apple tree, evil is the fruit of the tree that is sin. Sin is the ingrained 'me-centered' life that motivates so much of my day to day existence. It's in all of us and in my opinion it's what's wrong with the world. If you were to divide the world into 'good' and 'evil' I think you'd find that the line runs right down the middle of your own soul, at least it does mine.
All I'm saying is that the reason Christians talk about sin is because we want to answer the question 'what's wrong with the world?' and we think it isn't enough to say 'other people are'.
The heart of the human problem is the problem with the human heart, my heart included.