Chatting with a friend the other day, I was sharing how I have often said that people are basically good. I believed it, but something niggled at me. Over and over again, one scripture after another states that the natural man is an enemy to God. How did I reconcile this?
Start at the beginning.
I do not believe children are evil. They are, however, born narcissistic. It’s a necessity in order for them to survive. They need others to take care of their every need. They truly can’t do anything for themselves, to start.
A parent’s responsibility, both parents, is to teach their child/children to grow beyond their narcissism. Good manners don’t happen by accident. Respect, loyalty, kindness, all the good qualities we value are cultivated. A child shares a treat with you because you’ve shared treats with them. They mirror what they see and experience. They want to help because they want to be like those who’ve cared for them. We tease them for wanting to vacuum and do dishes failing to see we’re teaching them to dislike the jobs as much as we do instead of taking the opportunity to remember the simple joy of helping.
Something still didn’t fit my perspective. What about those who weren’t taught? Many manage to grow up to be decent human beings anyway.
I remembered reading John 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Everyone is born with the light of Christ, the ability to distinguish between good and evil. The question is do we choose to feed the light or starve it?
It’s why we feel that sense of coming home or at least familiarity when we learn about Jesus. Do we make the ultimate choice to choose Jesus or reject Him?
Some call it a conscience. Walt Disney named it Jiminy Cricket. It’s the light of Christ given to all. It guides us toward God, toward salvation, if we follow. Or we fall into darkness when we choose to ignore it. It is possible to extinguish it, but it requires work, consistently turning one’s back on God’s gentle prodding. Not simply turning one’s back, because God has provided a way to turn back to Him. Repentance. It requires not simply turning one’s back but fighting against God.
In working through this, I realized that I too often don’t give credit to God where credit is due. Too often, I say that something nudged me in a direction. Time to change that. My sense of right and wrong guides my choices. My decision to follow Jesus guides my choices. Sometimes, I’m listening to those gentle promptings, and sometimes I’m not. If I’m not, it doesn’t mean I’m choosing to not follow Jesus. Usually, it’s a case of me being too busy to feel those nudges.
This is why it’s important to take time to be still. Yes, I’m telling myself this.
I want that Light to grow stronger, bright, so I’m better able to see the difference between good and evil and strong enough to choose good.