Ezekiel 36:15: “I will not let you hear anymore the reproach of the nations, and you shall no longer bear the disgrace of the peoples and no longer cause your nation to stumble, declares the Lord God.”
One of the most intriguing outcomes of the recent Middle East conflict is what I will refer to as “the alignment.”
By alignment, I mean that as soon as the Israel-Hamas conflict commenced, various factions announced their allegiance: pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian. Some, like Academia, the UN, Liberal elites, and Antifa, immediately sided with Hamas. To them, Israel was responsible for the carnage against their own people. Others, less anticipated, like Code Pink, the Environmental movement, and activists like Greta Thunberg, also sided with Hamas. Still, others offered an unenthusiastic endorsement of Israel with suggestions of restraint or a cease-fire. Conversely, some directly endorsed Israel, although you can almost feel their silent reservations.
This is the standard response to yet another dispute: align to the left or the right.
Obviously, the world is on one or the other side of this disagreement and, seemingly, of all disputes.
We see this becoming more and more evident. In the U.S., nothing is more pronounced than Red vs. Blue states, Republican vs. Democratic-run cities, or Conservative vs. Progressive mindsets.
What is it, at the core of humanity, that explains this division?
An economist and brilliant intellectual, Thomas Sowell published the New York Times best-seller A Conflict of Visions in 1987. In this classic, he offers a simple and decisive explanation of why people take one side or the other.
“We disagree about politics, Sowell argues, because we disagree about human nature. We see the world through one of two competing visions, each of which tells a radically different story about human nature.
Those with “unconstrained vision” think humans are malleable and can be perfected. They believe that social ills and evils can be overcome through collective action that encourages humans to behave better. To subscribers of this view, poverty, crime, inequality, and war are not inevitable. Rather, they are puzzles that can be solved. We need only to say the right things, enact the right policies, and spend enough money, and we will suffer these social ills no more. This worldview is the foundation of the progressive mindset.
By contrast, those who see the world through a “constrained vision” lens believe human nature is a universal constant. No amount of social engineering can change the sober reality of human self-interest, or the fact that human empathy and social resources are necessarily scarce. People who see things this way believe that most political and social problems will never be “solved”; they can only be managed. This approach is the bedrock of the conservative worldview.”
Sowell implies that we view humanity as good and unconstrained or bad and constrained. But both can’t be right. Is man intrinsically good or not good?
This dichotomy is not lost in the Bible. In fact, the Bible has consistently characterized human nature. The Old Testament in Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…” Additionally, Christ remarks in John 3:19-20, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
The reality is man is depraved. It’s why we have continuous murders, thefts, and wars and why we need government, police, and the military. We lock our doors, erect walls around our prisons, and set up armed guards at airports and banks. We need to teach infants to be good; no training is necessary for them to act badly. That comes naturally.
Humanity, at its core, is sinful, and our propensity is towards evil. The solution to this will never be man-made. It requires a spiritual intervention.
As noted, Pastor John MacArthur once commented, “Men are not sinners because they sin; they sin because they are sinners.”
But here is where we falter. Here is where many err.
We identify with one side or the other and conclude we have arrived at the end game.
Somehow, we feel we need to look no further than the potential of a Two State Solution, or about what constitutes a Red Line, or how those displaced can be assimilated. And this feels natural. In fact, it would be true if there wasn’t a more significant issue.
Do we confront problems? Certainly, but there is a more pressing concern, and both sides, conservative and progressives, constrained and unconstrained, will ultimately face it – unfortunately, many don’t know what that bigger crisis is.
Jesus Himself, in chapter 13 of Luke, explains this more significant issue. Wicked events were occurring at the time of Christ’s first coming. Pilate had just executed some Galatians who were offering sacrifices at a Temple. The apostles tried to make sense of this tragedy to determine where those affected aligned; were they “greater sinners?” Also, in Siloam, pillars fell and killed eighteen Jews, and again, the apostles wanted to know if somehow these individuals were “worse offenders?” In other words, is all the evil in the world occurring because of some hidden sin among those suffering?
Jesus reveals that they are missing the point. In Luke 13:3 and 13:5, he answers, “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
So, what is the message here? We can easily explain a division of humanity based on one’s vision of human nature. Those who believe men are basically good will spend their resources on plans and programs that will never solve the human condition of depravity. Those who think that men are evil will fare better because their approach will be to manage the inherent wickedness of mankind; still, they, too, will fall short.
Both will likewise perish for eternity unless they address their spiritual condition.
Identifying as a progressive or a conservative will not save you from eternal punishment.
Confidence in your association with the Progressive or Conservative movements will be worthless without addressing the bigger picture.
Your eternal destination depends on one issue only: do you reject or accept Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior?
Ultimately, Israel will survive. They will survive because God has willed it, as stated in Ezekiel 36:15: “I will not let you hear anymore the reproach of the nations…”
Your more pressing concern should be, “How will I fare?”