Recently, I heard yet another news story about another approach yet another group was taking to try to tackle another destructive behavioral pattern among young people. I shouldn’t have to name the specific problem for you to understand what I’m talking about. This happens more and more each day in our culture. A social problem is announced (or revisited), solutions are proposed and a lengthy discussion ensues on the pros and cons of each suggested course of action. Only there is one glaring problem. The actual solution to the actual problem is never mentioned. The pundits drone on and on about how best to handle whatever issue happens to be on the cultural table, while the core of the entire matter is danced around endlessly, never touched. Perhaps a parable to illustrate.
Imagine this scene. A spigot on the outside of your house. A child in the neighborhood blatantly trespasses onto your property. He moves toward your home, grabs the spigot knob and turns it counter-clockwise until it stops. Water proceeds to pour onto your lawn. Pretty soon, the ground can no longer absorb the flow and your yard begins to flood. Other children begin to take notice and start approaching. Some are on bikes, some on foot. All of them begin playing in what is quickly becoming a flooded and muddy water park on your property. You begin to wave your arms at the children verbally demanding they stop riding their bikes through the grass. You threaten them, telling them you’re going to call their parents. The whole time, the children mock you as they run and jump around in the puddles. You grow increasingly frustrated. Not only are you frustrated, but you are confused that the kids seem to show complete disregard for your warnings, coming just short of ignoring you completely. As the water level rises you try new techniques to tackle the problem. You grab a small bucket and place it under the spigot, hoping to catch the flow of water and cut off the children’s reason for commandeering your yard. The bucket quickly fills, overflows and eventually tips over only adding to the already shallow ocean of water.The more exercised you get the more you notice a new issue. As you move from child to child, trying to persuade them to leave, you notice the ground is becoming increasingly slippery. You slip once and pull a muscle in your back. Now difficult to move, you limp around the deluge, growing angrier at the complete chaos. More children approach, your grass is carved with deep trenches from bicycle tires. The water continues to pour from the spigot, the children are now filthy. Some have fallen and gotten mud in their eyes. Others have fallen near the sidewalk, unable to discern where the grass ended and cement had started. There are scraped knees, tear-filled eyes, screaming trespassers and water everywhere. Now you begin screaming at the children. They won’t leave. As more kids see the frenzy, they decide to join the fun. Feeling completely incapable of ridding your lot of the deviants, you desperately go to your garage and get some grass seed. Throwing it on the deep grooves cut into your lawn, hoping to save what’s left of your yard. The seed swirls around and washes to the street. You furiously throw up your hands and go inside, closing the door, hoping the children will leave. As long as the the water is running, the kids keep coming. At your wits end, you leave the children to the total takeover and destruction of your property, come back outside, get in your car and drive away. Later, as you recount your story, everyone agrees that there was nothing you could have done differently. That the behavior of these children was inevitable and irreversible. As time goes by, your friends periodically share proposed solutions with you and some even ask if they can return to your home and take a stab at the problem. The cycle goes on for months, you continue to begrudgingly write huge checks to the water department and chalk up the entire tragedy to another necessary evil in the circle of life.
I hope that relatively early in the parable, you caught the point I was trying to make. By mid-parable, you should have been screaming at the screen, “turn off the faucet!!” The story gets increasingly ridiculous with every turn. And the whole time the solution to the problem is so blatantly obvious that you the reader should tire of the compounding disaster. What am I trying to illustrate? Back to the news story about behavioral problems. Can you think of a recent attempt to curb certain destructive patterns in people that consisted of a string of peripheral proposals, none of which were the actual solution to the actual problem? I sure can. How long will we give drugs, money, education and self-esteem affirmation to people who need to stop sinning and obey the gospel? How long will we throw seed on the ground, yell, threaten, hide in the house and drive away–when we should simply walk up and turn off the spigot? All things are from God, including the solution to every problem. Problems come from sin, but the Glorious Sin Bearer has taken away sin’s ultimate penalty and present power over us. Said another way, Jesus Christ provides answers and solutions to the worlds problems. Though we know not every spigot will be turned off, this side of heaven, this does not mean all hope is lost and our duty remains to point all lost sinners to The Sinless One. He alone can address the source of all chaos in our lives. He is not only creator, but also sustainer of all things. He has given us everything we need. Not necessarily everything we ask for, or everything we want, but everything we need indeed. We can turn to him for any and all social problems, because every social problem is merely the manifestation of a personal problem. To turn to an alternate source for help is futile and foolish. Think back to the chaos on your front lawn again. If you would have walked up and turned that spigot off, how long would the children have stayed? Christ goes to the source and fixes the root cause, the human heart. Once the heart is made pure, all subsequent actions flow from a clean source. And because He does all these things, he’s the hero. All things are to Him, to Him be all praise and glory forever and ever. Amen.