- What is the greatest problem in our world today? How might it be fixed?
The fact that the world is broken (or, at least, that it contains brokenness) is not easily disputed. We find evidence as readily as the evening news. The fact that so much squabbling goes on only testifies to just how unable we are to pinpoint just what the problem really is—let alone how it may be fixed.
If we believe that our greatest problem is a political one, then we need a political solution—and we have quite a few jockeying for position as we speak. If we believe our problem to be a moral one, then we need a religious teacher or self-help program. If we believe our problem to be social, we might long for a great revolutionary or another Gandhi.
We might point out that over the years, there have been many who have attributed these and other roles to the person of Jesus. In the ancient world, one of Jesus’ closest followers was a man named John. John lived in an era where the stories of Jesus were widely known, but their meaning was gradually slipping away. In John’s own community of Ephesus, Jesus’ followers knew only the teachings of John the Baptist (Acts 18:25). So when John set out to write Jesus’ biography, he doesn’t merely chronicle Jesus’ life from birth to death, he takes us all the way back to the very beginning so that we might see Jesus on the broader landscape of eternity:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
John’s opening words would have meant something different depending on your cultural background. Jewish readers would have understood the “Word” to be the voice of God in creation and in Scripture; Greek readers would have understood the “Word” as the voice of reason in philosophy. Both would have understood the Word to be the beginning of all things.
John tells us, then, that Jesus is the starting point for all that we see and know. “In him was life,” John tells us, underscoring the fact that life comes only through God. But John also warns that there is an element of darkness at work in the world today. For John, this represents the intellectual darkness of disbelief as well as the moral darkness of man’s wickedness.
In that sense, sin brings darkness and doubt to the world; it clouds our minds and darkens our hearts such that a profound brokenness reigns. Jesus, however, appears as a light that drives away the clouds of sin and despair.
Paul picks up on this same theme when he writes to the church in Colosse—a people that had grown increasingly confused regarding the true character of Jesus:
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)
Jesus takes everything that’s been broken and puts it back together again, beginning by bringing you and I to the foot of his cross for forgiveness and transformation.
Many people offer a solution to the world’s problems. But Jesus—the true Word—comes to us not just with a promise, but Jesus is the promise. He is the solution, and not with a press kit or a national bestseller, but the wood of the cross.
In the darkness, his light shines.
- Additional question(s) to share and consider:
- Do you see sin as the greatest problem of the world today? How does this influence your view of politics, entertainment, etc.?
- How is Jesus more than simply a “good moral teacher?” When did you come to understand Jesus the most?