In spite of our unquenchable optimism, the solution to our brokenness is out of reach. It’s going to take far more than elbow grease to fix the mess we’ve made.
In my experience, there are two different kinds of broken.
There’s the kind of broken where the damage is largely superficial—where the only thing that’s really needed to get things back up and running is some tender loving care (and maybe some elbow grease).
This is the kind of broken I prefer to encounter, because it’s fixable. Sure, it might mean getting your hands dirty or cracking open a manual, but it can be done.
The other kind of broken is a little less forgiving. This isn’t the kind of broken where you open the hood of your car only to find your engine has kicked the bucket. It’s the kind of broken where you open the hood of your car only to find everything is on fire and about to explode.
The solution to the first scenario might be rebuilding your engine; the solution to the second is diving for cover and looking out for shrapnel.
The world is broken beyond repair
Not many people are willing to argue that the world isn’t broken. The real debate is over what kind of broken we’re talking about. Ideally, it’s the first kind—the kind where, if we all just work hard and do our best, we can clean things up and get everything in tip-top shape.
This is the world people tend to believe in when it comes time to elect leaders and officials—a world where we can get things right if we just get the right people into the right positions.
I don’t think we’re dealing with that kind of broken. I think we’re looking at the flaming innards of our combusting car and trying desperately to convince ourselves it’s not as bad as it looks.
But it is.
Maybe part of the problem is that we tend to talk in generalities. Sure, there are wars. Sure, there is moral relativism. Sure, there are genocides. Sure, there are riots and political unrest and poverty and corruption, but those are all so vague and intangible. They happen … somewhere … to some people.
But what do those things even mean? They’re bad words that represent bad things, but they’re too fuzzy to mean anything significant.
So let’s talk specifics. Let’s talk nitty-gritty. Let’s talk about the uncomfortable things we like to ignore because, deep in our hearts, they make us wonder if we really can fix things in this broken world. They point to a world broken beyond repair.
Let’s talk about:
1. Terrorists kidnapping, torturing and raping children.
As I write this in the middle of 2015, thanks to an ever-growing laundry list of senseless atrocities and heartless killings, the Islamic State (often called ISIS or ISIL) has wormed its way into headline after depressing headline, so you might have missed the one published by Reuters on Feb. 4, 2015. The headline reads, “Islamic State Selling, Crucifying, Burying Children Alive in Iraq.”
I shouldn’t have to continue. I don’t want to continue. But I’m going to because something here is very broken, and we can’t afford to ignore it. The article goes on to explain that Islamic State militants are abducting children in Iraq—children of Yazidis, of Christians, of Sunnis, of Shiites, of anyone whose beliefs don’t mesh with their own—and then doing unspeakable things to those children.
They take girls and sell them at the markets as sex slaves. They take the mentally challenged and load them up with explosives and use them as unwitting suicide bombers. They take boys and use them as bomb makers or human shields during airstrikes. They take others and crucify them, behead them or bury them alive.
Children. These things are happening to children—defenseless, helpless children. Tell me, what’s the solution?
Some would (and will) go in with guns blazing to try and eradicate these monsters. But the Islamic State is built on a belief—the belief that an unending, bloody jihad against infidels is both pleasing to and demanded by their god. Stamping out the Islamic State wouldn’t stamp out the belief; it would just create a vacuum for another group to take up the same mantle.
We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again. Will the next incarnation of terror be even worse than the last?
So what’s the solution?
2. Man wins an award for becoming a woman.
Let’s shift our focus to an entirely different arena: the media frenzy over the sex-change operation of former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner. Jenner claims to identify as a woman; and after a slew of hormone injections and cosmetic surgeries, he now looks like a woman.
He isn’t one, of course. He’s a very confused man who has paid incredible amounts of money to have his body changed in radical, irreversible ways out of a genuine belief that he was born the wrong gender.
The loudest voices in the media and our American culture say that Jenner is a hero—that his decision to become his “authentic” self was brave and inspiring and praiseworthy. ESPN even selected Jenner as the 2015 recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, reserved for those with “the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.”
The problem here is that Jenner and others like him are attempting to define reality based on how they feel. He doesn’t feel like a man, so he’s trying to change his gender. It’s a style of thinking that results in a relativistic sludge of opinions, every one of them equally important and valid.
When right and wrong are determined on a case-by-case basis, we’ve created a world where facts mean nothing and feelings trump all other considerations.
So what’s the solution?
3. Bloody genocide claims more lives than World War II.
You might be wondering if a sex-change operation really belongs on a list that begins with the heartless killings of a terrorist organization. After all, if Jenner really is in the wrong, it’s only himself he’s hurting.
Is that true, though?
Doing what feels right instead of what God says is right has caused far more damage than just gender confusion. It’s responsible for the worst genocide the world has ever known, and here’s the really dark part: That genocide is still happening.
It’s called abortion; but unlike other genocides, it is legal in many countries and even celebrated.
In much of the so-called civilized world, it is acceptable for an expectant mother to pay a doctor to slice up her unborn child and then extract it, piece by bloody piece, from her womb. This is her right; this is her privilege. It is codified and protected by our legal systems, and it happens about 125,000 times every day throughout the world.
World War II spanned six years and claimed more than 50 million lives.
Since 1980, more than 1.3 billion children have been aborted. Billion. With a “B.”
These are children who, in many cases, had functioning hearts pumping blood through their tiny veins, who could make facial expressions and respond to things like touch and sound. As a race, we have convinced ourselves that these are not actual human lives; that if we can just get a knife or a pair of forceps into the uterus before the baby comes out, we’re merely performing a medical operation on a “blob of tissue.”
We are broken.
So what’s the solution?
The real solution to our broken world: Thy Kingdom come
There are other problems, of course. Venezuelans are buying toilet paper on the black market because their economy is falling to pieces. Americans are racking up astronomical debts that will become the responsibility of their children and grandchildren. The people of Burundi are in the throes of political instability thanks to corrupt elections. The list goes on and on, but the recurring theme is always this:
We’re broken beyond repair, and we can’t fix it. Thankfully, Someone else can.We’re broken beyond repair, and we can’t fix it.
Thankfully, Someone else can. We may not have the solution, but Jesus Christ does.
After His prophesied return to the earth, He will set the human race on the road toward true peace and prosperity (Isaiah 2:4)—a road that will lead to the establishment of God’s unfailing Kingdom here on earth.
But what about right now, in this moment? What does God want us doing in the middle of all this unfixable brokenness?
When Jesus taught His disciples the model prayer, the very first thing He instructed them to pray to God about was this:
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
That comes first. Top of the list. Not our own needs, not forgiveness for our sins, not even protection and deliverance from Satan.
God’s Kingdom. That’s what we’re told to pray for above all else. This is the coming future Kingdom where “God Himself will be with [mankind] and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
We need this.
Praying for the Kingdom isn’t a formality. It isn’t some boilerplate we should dutifully stamp onto our prayers before getting to the more important stuff. Your needs, your sins, your safety—those things are important, and God wants you to talk to Him about them, but they don’t hold a candle to the world’s desperate need for the Kingdom of God.
Helpless boys and girls in Iraq need it. Confused men and women radically altering themselves in an attempt to feel whole need it. More than a billion children who died before ever seeing the light of day need it.
You need it. I need it.
We are broken. This world is broken. The Kingdom of God is the only solution.
Read more about the Kingdom in our free booklet The Mystery of the Kingdom.