What is the Problem?

By Not Known

Many think that the deepest human problem is that we are deprived. On this understanding, what we need is more of the things that we are deprived of in order to be happy.

Some think that we are deprived of knowledge. Modern societies often see this as ignorance of scientific knowledge. If ignorance is the problem, education is the answer. But, does more knowledge really make us better?

Others think that we are deprived of wealth. For them, there is not enough money to share around or it is wrongly shared. If this is the problem, then what we need is the creation of more wealth or a changed basis for its distribution. But, does wealth really make us better?

The Bible says that the basic human problem is not that we are deprived, but that we are depraved. Or to put it another way, having disconnected ourselves from God we have also become disconnected from ourselves, from other people and from the rest of creation. Our wide range of human problems finally go back to a lost connection with God.

Psalm 14 speaks of how we know that God exists but suppress this knowledge in our heart attitudes (vs 1). This results in a practical atheism in which we all deny or ignore God and act corruptly (vs 1, 3-4)

Other passages show more of the linkage between our sin against God and our other human problems. For example, Genesis 3 records the systemic breakdown of relations within creation because of a broken relationship with God. Rom. 1: 18-32 traces this in even more horrifying detail.

A caution is needed. We need to avoid simplistic reductionism. Human problems are complex in nature and causality and the linkage to sin may be a distant one. For example, we can say that all sickness and death finally goes back to sin. However, this does not mean that every instance of sickness and death is because of some sin by the person involved (e.g. Jn 9:3). Christians ought to take the lead in recognising and responding to the complexity of human problems and solutions.

In recent weeks we have seen that our sense of who we are and where we are is all tied to being God’s creation in the world that he made. It should not surprise us that our deepest problem is also tired up with our relationship with God. And as Psalm 14 tells us, the solution also lies with God (vs 7)