In the past week, in preparation for an upcoming talk, I went looking for information on what people consider to be the world’s single biggest problem. During my research, I stumbled across this fascinating story: British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to award £1 million to anyone who can discover the world’s biggest problem – and solve it.
A committee will gather suggestions, draw up a shortlist of problems, then launch a race to solve the biggest predicament. Mr Cameron’s spokesman said, “We want people to think big: what does the world need and how can we achieve that? We are looking for the next penicillin, aeroplane or World Wide Web. Can we grow limbs or create universal low carbon travel? Something that is going to really revolutionise what we do and how we live our lives – sending us sprinting ahead in the global race.”
Sounds like an awesome idea, capable of generating a slew of new ideas and inspiring innovative minds. However, Christians might want to gently point out one small issue: it’s already been done.
We don’t need entrepreneurs and bounty hunters to tell us the world’s greatest problem. God has already done that. The Bible makes it clear that, to quote the oft-used phrase, the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. The human race is in open rebellion against its Creator, and has been from the very beginning (Genesis 3:1-6) – ignoring his good, life-giving word to us, going our own way, shaking our fists at our Maker and declaring our independence from him. It’s as if we have collectively said, “Thanks for creating us, God, but we’ll take it from here. We can work out what’s best. We don’t need you. Be quiet.”
It’s humanity’s biggest problem, for many reasons. For one thing, it’s really, really stupid. Much more importantly, God rightly refuses to turn a blind eye to our actions. He holds us to account for our ridiculous rebellion against him, meaning we are alienated from him now and facing eternal separation from his goodness. Along the way, we face broken relationships with one another, corruption deep in our own hearts, and life in a world that groans in decay, being ‘subjected to frustration’ by God because of human sin (Romans 8:20). Our rebellion takes many forms, but it all comes back to the root problem: we have rebelled against our good and loving Creator and gone our own way.
Mercifully, thankfully, wonderfully, God doesn’t just tell us the world’s biggest problem. In the person of Jesus Christ, God entered the world as a man. Where the rest of us rebel and fail, Jesus obeyed and succeeded – always listening to God’s word, always doing what was right. And he went to death on a Roman cross – not as a tragic end, but in the perfect plans and purposes of God, dying in our place and taking the punishment that we deserved for rejecting God. So in his great kindness, God did not identify our greatest problem and leave it to us to find an innovative solution. God knew we could never deal with the heart of the human problem ourselves, so he did it all for us.
Now, anyone who turns back to God and trusts in Jesus can be totally forgiven for rejecting God and rebelling against him. There is peace with God now, a changed heart that enables us to willingly and joyfully live for God and love others, and the promise of a perfect eternity with God and his people. As Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Problem solved; solution provided. So turn to God and trust in Jesus.
So I figure David Cameron owes Jesus one million pounds. Do you want to tell him, or should I?