These are vivid words used to describe things that are not as they should be. Whether it is a relationship, a life or the world we live in, people often look around and find themselves feeling overwhelmed by the “wrongness” of it all. The last year has only added to this feeling. I’ve read several articles about how the world is “broken”. Instead of pinpointing one specific problem that is behind it all, instead there is an overall sense that things are so wrong they can’t easily be made right. This problem is bigger than bad circumstances that we find ourselves in, bigger than any one solution and beyond the scope of any leader to fix.
Cultural and racial issues are one area of the broken world that was especially prominent during the last year. Various activist groups expressed dissatisfaction and outrage at injustice that they saw both generally and illustrated in a few specific situations. People wanted things to change, to be better and to see an end to what was wrong, but it was difficult to find a clear, tangible solution that would fix what was broken in society. People saw injustices repeated over and over again and their frustration led to a variety of actions, some more helpful than others. Some of the more extreme responses created more brokenness and division, even between groups that agreed that something needed to change.
Political divisions created their own brokenness, often dividing families, communities and even churches. Political figures offered solutions to the things they saw that were wrong with this world, but these solutions were lacking. Some of them failed to address the real problems, some helped some people while hurting others, and some solutions were empty promises that the leader had no intention of fulfilling. All of this was augmented by a divisive media that seemed to celebrate the brokenness for their own ratings. The reporting was often intentionally inflammatory and it was fairly easy to find stories and reports that would blame the brokenness of the world on those who you personally don’t agree with.
All of this brokenness can lead us to a loss of hope. When we look around and see cracks everywhere, it is difficult to know where to start to make things better. Most solutions can seem like you are putting a band aid on a gushing wound or duct tape on a building that is falling down around you. When you see a broken world what does it mean and where do we turn for hope?
The Bible speaks clearly about the brokenness of our world. Instead of expecting to find a world that is whole, from the time of the Fall of man into sin, the world has been broken and continues to be broken. It describes the world as fallen, sinful and given over to the “flesh”. Here is some fleshing out of what that means in Galatians 5:
The results of sin lead to the brokenness of the world we see around us. Sometimes what we see is not the result of one sin, but of generations of sin and sin patterns that pile brokenness upon brokenness. This is described in 2 Timothy 3:
Sin is the problem. Sin is what leaves us in a broken world. Sin is what destroys marriages, relationships, families and societies. When we see brokenness all around us, we are seeing what God promised as people followed the path of living for themselves without God. A broken world is the natural state of the world without God.
God’s solutions for this brokenness is not better governance, better programs, more money, money better spent or better ideas. Instead, God offered only one hope for all of mankind and that is complete life transformation through salvation in Jesus Christ.
You may be wondering about what difference can that really make in a society or in a nation? You might be surprised to learn that it can make a greater difference than any of the human solutions mentioned above or promised by politicians today. In fact, a sociologist named Robert Woodberry spent a great deal of time studying the impact of Protestant Missions on communities around the world. He was able to study “empirical, long term, statistically significant evidence that Christianity increased the general well-being of surrounding populations.”
While it is a popular theme to blame Christians for things like racism, division and hate crimes, the evidence Woodberry found showed that “When people selflessly live out the gospel, both through evangelization and through practical application, it changes cultures for the better.”
If you are interested in reading more, you can find a summary of his study here and the full study is available for download here.
As Christians, we should realize that when we look at the brokenness that exists in the world today, there is only one true answer for what ails it, and we have access to that solution. You can be a part of healing brokenness around you, but you have to be willing to go to those who need to know the love of Christ and share the hope of His salvation with this broken world. You and your ideas and opinions are not the answer. Jesus is the answer. What are you waiting for?