reconciling the human condition

Claud Lorrain, “Landscape With Adoration of the Golden Calf”
Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, Germany
For Sunday, September 12, 2010
Proper 19

What is the human condition? Are we essentially good, with a tendency to make some bad choices, or fatally flawed to the core of our beings and totally unable to save ourselves?

This week’s readings provide a strong argument for the latter.
Jeremiah 4:22 says,
“My people are fools;
they do not know me,
They are senseless children;
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil;
they know not how to do good.”
Psalm 14 verses 2-3 concur:
“The Lord looks down from heaven
on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
All have turned aside,
they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
So if we’re rotten to the core, what then? Luke 15 provides the response – repent:
“… There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” To repent means to turn away from the direction one has been moving and to begin moving in the opposite direction. In our case, this means to stop moving away from God and to start moving toward him.
1 Timothy 1:12-17 provides a picture of what this looks like in an individual life. The Apostle Paul describes that while he was once a blasphemer, persecutor, and violent man, now the grace of the Lord along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus had been poured out on him (vv. 13-14).
Rotten apples can be redeemed. It starts with recognizing that we are among them, and that only the grace of the gospel can save us. If you have not yet repented, may today be the day you say ‘yes’ to God’s call to turn around. If you have repented, but have lost your focus, may today be the day you understand once again the direction in which you are called to move. If you have repented and are living righteously, may today’s readings be a cause for rejoicing.
The human condition can be reconciled. The key is a word: repent.
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