Themes of Historical Christianity: Living With Depravity

In my spiritual journey, the issue of living with the depravity of mankind is the most difficult for me.  When God the Son gives us insight into the Kingdom of God He tells us “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:39 NIV).  This theme is not isolated to one verse, but is consistent throughout Christ’s teachings.  My main difficulty is how to apply this is in a depraved world.  As an extreme example, consider World War II.  Most all reasonable people, as well as most Christians, agree that the intent of the Axis powers leaders was so depraved that the world had no option but to fight.  On both sides, the cost was tremendous.   Both sides murdered not only combatants, but also tens of millions of civilians.  Entire cities were destroyed, finally ending in the complete destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan by nuclear weapons.  In spite of the tragic death toll, most reasonable people realize the depravity of mankind made the death and destruction tragic but necessary.

This is an extreme example, but the depravity of mankind is at work in every relationship in our lives.  In our workplace, in our families, and in our friendships our own depravity and the depravity of our relationships make living the Kingdom of God lifestyle seemingly impossible.  In the Kingdom Of God lifestyle, we should love, honor, and cherish our spouse, but in a depraved world oftentimes the spouse may respond with being controlling and demanding.  In the Kingdom of God life, children should respect and obey their parents, but some parents are clearly very evil.  In our workplace, the Kingdom of God lifestyle may not give us guidance in dealing with a co-worker who is out to personally destroy your career.

Most every Christian book or conference I have ever seen on family life, money management, or career advice seems to ignore this most basic fact.  They all seem worthless in dealing with a depraved world. The truth is that human relationships are so complicated by the depravity of mankind that living the Kingdom of God lifestyle seems impossible.

Over the years, I have come to believe that God’s most precious gift in this regard is the book of Psalms.  In these writings, I find profound  images of mankind’s depravity, and David’s raw emotions in dealing with humanity.  From David’s own sin, to the sin in others in trying to destroy him, the Psalms are brutally honest at the struggles in living in a depraved world.  In modern Western Christianity, we are sometimes taken aback by the honesty, but for me it is a comforting reminder of the struggles we face. 

The fact is that the Bible provides little guidance on dealing with the two Kingdom problem.  I myself still don’t have an answer except to long for the coming return of Christ to settle the two Kingdom problem once and for all.


About Allen Krell

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