Slogans are deceptive. They manipulate us into thinking something is obvious when it is not. Take the phrase “we’re all in this together.”
Assumption: we are facing the same problem so will act together to solve it. For a while the slogan seemed to work, but only while people were scared they might catch coronavirus themselves.
Then human selfishness reasoned along these lines: “I’m not facing the same problem. I’m young – the risk is minimal to me.” The potential of spreading it on to others may well have not crossed some people’s minds.
At this point, we might feel quite superior. We have thought of others! We have benefited the common good! But does that mean we’ve just developed a more sophisticated selfishness?
“I’ve been good”
Self-righteous statements about lockdown are common. People proudly proclaim the sacrifices they have made. Perhaps you take particular pride in having kept the lockdown even more strictly than requested.
Yet many still made their own individual interpretations, like “needing” basic necessities every day to allow them to get out shopping or pick up a paper. As with all of life, the general conclusion is: what I do is reasonable so I’ve been good!
“I might as well . . .”
Strong self interest – which often equates to selfishness – has also been on display. There are certain things we want. To see parents. To see children or grandchildren. To have a haircut. Bank holiday on the beach. We want an excuse to do what we want and leap at any we get. We are happy to say: if they can, why can’t I . . . ?
“Why should I do the right thing when others are not?”
We know that, even if the country’s elites have been busy bending the rules, we – as ordinary people – have helped to halt Covid’s spread by staying at home during the lockdown. Happy to be protected by the generally good behaviour of the majority, we ask: why shouldn’t I get away with breaking the rules too?
To whom am I accountable?
The bottom line is this: why do what is right simply because it is right? Even if it provides no benefit to us. This comes down to who our judge is. Not journalists. Not the self-righteous. Not public opinion. Ultimately what matters is what God thinks of us. He sees both our actions and our hearts.
Is there anyone genuinely selfless around?
With both hypocrisy and self-righteousness plainly on display, we wonder if anyone is genuinely selfless. Is there anyone good through and through? Only one man.
This man wrote the rules. But he placed himself under them. He didn’t try to wriggle out of them for his own benefit. No creative interpretations. No dubious justifications. In fact Jesus was the only one ever to keep both the spirit and the letter of the law. And he did it with utter selflessness for the benefit of others – for our benefit.
This man had natural immunity. He was totally free from the awful consequences of human sinfulness. But Jesus chose to experience those consequences for us, when he died on the cross.
Having the self-righteousness and selfishness in our own hearts unmasked is not pleasant. We would rather deny it. But denying it denies us the opportunity of experiencing the wonderful love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We really are all in it together
With regard to the selfishness of our hearts, we really are all in it together. All of us will be held to account. That is no more comforting than all being infected by coronavirus. But the great comfort is a solution is freely offered to all of us: forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:22)
This is the Christian’s hope. It is available to all who will turn from their selfish hearts, seeking God’s forgiveness through Jesus who died for their sins. What other hope is there?
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