You ever know someone who was not well, or at least did not look well, but would not see a doctor? Their symptoms are evident to everyone, and sometimes they have deeper symptoms you can’t see. And yet, when you ask them if they’ve been to a doctor, or suggest seeing a doctor, they dismiss it with an “I’ll be fine.”
Such a response is frustrating and unsettling. Clearly there is something wrong. And if the individual is someone close to you, it can be heartbreaking. You know that if they would just go see a doctor and get a diagnosis, the condition could be treated, if not cured. But there they sit, getting sicker and sicker, until it’s too late.
In his book the Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis has a chapter entitled “Human Wickedness.” As one might expect, it’s a chapter on the doctrine of sin. Lewis opens the chapter by stating the obvious; it is remarkably difficult to get someone to see or acknowledge their sinful state. He observes it wasn’t always this way. He writes,
“But to bring this doctrine into real life in the minds of modern men, and even of modern Christians, is very hard. When the apostles preached, they could assume even in their Pagan hearers a real consciousness of deserving the Divine anger. The Pagan mysteries existed to allay this consciousness, and the Epicurean philosophy claimed to deliver men from the fear of eternal punishment. It was against this background that the Gospel appeared as good news. It brought news of possible healing to men who knew that they were mortally ill. But all this has changed. Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis — in itself very bad news — before it can win a hearing for the cure.”1
It has often been stated that what makes the gospel “good news” is that every single one of us has received bad news. We are sick with sin. Sadly, many of us just sit, getting sicker and sicker, until it’s too late.
“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Timothy 2:3-5.
- C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HaperCollinsPublishers, 1996), 48.