We try to push the idea human depravity away. We hide it, talk it away, claim that it’s a negative outlook, etc. The last we want to do is own it. Some overplay the depravity hand claiming because we are depraved we are therefore worthless. This too doesn’t own depravity. We need to own it.
This idea did not go over well as I was training camp counselors in conflict resolution.
“People are naturally good, not depraved,” said a counselor.
“People who say people are naturally good have never worked with children,” I replied.
The group wasn’t buying it. To move forward and be optimistic you first need to understand and see reality. Understand the reality of things and you can move things towards the best. They still didn’t buy in. I told them to give it a week… it only took a couple of hours.
A church that had a large group of unchurched kids asked my advice on dealing with them. Apparently my answer did not have an appreciation for the situation. The rebuttal given was “but they don’t behave!” Aha, there is the problem. My advice was you need to love them first. We polarize discipline and love- they are truly one. If we love we deal with the reality of the situation and work towards the best. Love includes discipline, it’s not exclusive. Good behavior doesn’t come first and then we love. Despite our depravity, Christ acted on our behalf! Jesus loved, saved and then begins to perfect us.
Easier said then done
My kids pour on the love talk when they are in trouble. It KILLS me. They’re cute. They’re adorable, and I LOATH to see them hurt or cry. I knew this moment would come. I knew it would be hard. But love does what is best for the person. It doesn’t act with a cold heart, but it does compassionately deal with reality. This too is the Gospel. As God saves us He also lovingly shapes us. As hard as it is to discipline my boyz, hugging them afterward and showing forgiveness is a powerful moment. It communicates that even when they mess up, they’re still loved.
The bottom line:
We must own depravity. It means doing something that is counter-culture these days: taking responsibility. Bringing it back to the Cross, God knew we could not be perfect. That is why He gave us Christ. Owning our depravity isn’t seeing everyone as evil and worthless- it’s seeing people as being imperfect and need of redemption. Yes we are depraved, but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Yes people are depraved, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love them and get involved in people’s lives. That is precisely what Jesus did, and one day we’ll be made perfect because of it.