When was the last time you killed someone? Today? Yesterday? We’ve had snow of such apocalyptic proportions, cutting off communities, blocking food supplies, stirring such rage that surely has forced us into some difficult decisions. Like, where do you get guns from. And who to kill first. After all, we can’t all survive. Tesco’s ain’t full enough for all of us.
You haven’t resorted to this? Why not? I guess I’m relieved. But still. How have you managed to repress the self-protecting pack-hunter hiding in all of us, the predator, who lives in a dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest – or at least, the one with the biggest gun – world?
Maybe I’ve watched too much TV. Last year’s Survivors, which begins a new series tonight; Day of the Triffids; 28 Day Later, and so many others, all tell the story of a major catastrophe that leaves humans struggling to survive, mostly because without warm living rooms, mobile phones and an open petrol station we all go native, turn feral and kill each other. Why? Because at their root, humans are selfish.
It used to be preachers who had the monopoly on this story. Humans are evil! Humans are depraved! Humans are full of sin! You will be judged! Now, we don’t need to say anything. Survivors: humans are bad. TV news: humans are bad. Avatar: humans are bad. EastEnders: humans are bad. It really is everywhere. I don’t know many humans who need to be told they are crap. Most of us are fully aware that we feel like that already.Who needs Augustine’s doctrine of original sin when you’ve got the Daily Mail.
If it was Christian preachers who set us on this path, maybe it needs to be Christians preachers who re-set the balance, who address the balance of a world out of kilter with its creator. Maybe we need to apologise for getting something so horribly wrong. Because if we begin at the beginning, to use Rob Bell’s phrase, we discover that humans are not inherently bad and evil; humans were not created depraved and in need of redemption. God saw what he had made, and it was good. It was good. Not perfect, as in a finished product out of a machine; but good, like fresh apples on a tree. This is Genesis 1 and 2. Things were good. So, the original state of humans: good. The default setting: good.
Yes, things changed in a way that Genesis 3 and the rest of the redemption story tries to explain. And then, at the end in Revelation 21-22, things are fully restored. Good. Good! So perhaps there is a different story of human life that we can tell. Stories that are not all about how humans make things go horribly wrong, but how humans are created to make things go right; that by nature we do not all revert to type and kill to survive, but that our nature is to over-rule the survival-of-the-fittest instinct and look out for those weaker than ourselves. That has happened countless times in the snow over the last few weeks. People putting themselves out in order to help others; people meeting their neighbours for the first time on order to help them with their shopping or get the car out of the drive.
Stories of hope, stories of human goodness. I know it is not always easy. When in an almost empty-shelved (compared with normal!) Tesco’s on Saturday I was tempted to take more milk than I needed in case it we couldn’t get any more; but that would mean there was none left for anyone else. So I only took one. Big deal! But it’s little things that give us hope.
I know that without Jesus I would be more selfish, more opinionated, more impatient. So maybe Survivors is right. maybe I would kill to survive. Maybe we all would. Maybe the new secular gospel preachers of sin, hell-fire and death have got a point. Maybe all I have said is wrong.
I hope not. Certainly not throwing Jesus into the snowy mix as well. Its times like this he’s especially relevant, especially challenging. In the midst of the bleak midwinter, in the midst of the thawing apocalypse snow. Anyone want to watch The Day After Tomorrow?