I recently visited a high school graduation. I had the pleasure of seeing some of my good friends on their last day of high school – they are solid young Christians and I’m honoured to be both their pastor and friend.
But here’s what I noticed. Secular humanism is so utterly empty. In the speeches the year 12s were told that they could change the world and make it a better place. They could look inward and see that the solution to life’s difficulties could be found within themselves. They were told they could achieve anything – any dream they had could become a reality with enough hard work and trust in themselves.
I sat there wondering if I was the only bloke scratching his head; wondering if I was the only bloke who had watched the news recently. Everything that was said seemed to have no connection with reality. Surely if we have learned anything at all from modern history (Ancient is the same, people’s names are just harder to pronounce), it’s that we humans are not the answer to the problems we have created. We’ve flippin made the mess we’re in – and we add to it every day.
But history was ignored today. The take home message was that this group of year 12 students could change the world by the sheer force of their inner brilliance and capacity to ‘just be themselves.’ That’s a pretty heavy burden to place on 17 and 18 year olds, don’t you think?
I reckon the Bible makes much more sense. Here’s a bit of 2 Corinthians 12.
But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Romans 7 knocked on my head a moment later:
19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Here’s the wash up of my morning. Jesus actually takes the pressure off us – we don’t need to try and perform well to get in His good books – we can't make it on our own. Yet He turns up and says, “I’ve got it. I’ve got you. I won't drive away anyone who comes to me.” (that’s my paraphrase of John 6:37).
Secular humanism, on the other hand, places all the pressure squarely on us – on our young people, our elderly, and people like me – middle aged blokes just battling away trying to keep our heads above the water – and it says: you do it. It’s all up to you. You change the world. You change yourself. Heck, half the people I know can't change a tyre…
No wonder depression is an epidemic.
So here’s a thought – maybe when Jesus said all that stuff about…“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (that’s Matthew 11:28-9, in case you want to read that bit – it’s pretty sweet, eh?)
Maybe He really meant it – because He is the answer. Not us.
Steve Wakeford, Associate Minister