Human against human — the atrocities of warring conflict are all too real. As we sat around our dinner table in Budapest, we listened to our Serbian houseguests telling of the history of atrocities between ethnic and religious groups in the former Yugoslavia. The United States was bombing Serbia (about 200 miles away). Some Serbians who were followers of Jesus sought refuge at our church and in our home. A sense of reality and surprise overwhelmed us as the stories took on a personal nature. But should we have been surprised?
I thought back to my medical practice in the U.S. Working in the emergency room, I witnessed unspeakable abuse perpetrated by family members and "friends". One night I yelled, "Who shot this man?" I was surprised to hear the patient's father-in-law reply, "I did."
Recent portrayals of events from the war in Iraq have brought surprise and outrage. The pictures portrayed repeatedly on TV and newspapers have wearied us with disgust. The ideals of the U.S. have once again been tainted.
So why are we surprised by the sins of others? Why are we surprised by our own sin? Why are we surprised at the depravity of mankind?
The world has told us we are good people who can be made better by education; moral teaching can change us. But the Bible teaches that our minds (Romans 1:28), our conscience (Hebrews 9:14), our heart (Jeremiah 17:9) and our very nature (Ephesians 2:3) are sinful. Only the redemptive work of a merciful God can save us.
Some would say that most of us are fairly good people. But to a truly holy God, even the "smallest of sins" is an atrocity.
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." (I John 1:8)
So why are we surprised?
Sharing the journey with you,