Imagine for a moment that you are responsible for parking at the Super Bowl. The cars are jammed in, bumper-to-bumper, and when the game is over, your job is to clear the parking lot as quickly and as safely as possible.
Your strategy is simple: As soon as the drivers in the first row of a section arrive at their cars, you begin moving them into the exit lane so that others parked behind them can follow.
You notice three drivers, seated in their cars in the front row of one section, so you raise your flag and wave them forward. Nothing happens. So you point to them and wave the flag again, but still nothing happens. Then you notice something strange—these people are in their cars, but they haven’t even started their engines. What in the world are they doing?
By now, the folks in the cars behind are wondering the same thing. Some of them are sounding their horns. They are getting frustrated. Why are these people at the front not moving?
The First Problem
You start getting angry yourself. It’s your job to clear the parking lot, and these guys are holding you and everyone else back. So you walk over to the cars. That takes time and leads to even more blaring of horns. Some people are rolling down their windows and shouting abuse at the drivers on the front row.
You get to the first car, and bang on the windshield: “Get moving!” The driver rolls down the window. “I don’t know what happened,” he says, “but I can’t see. I got in the car, and everything went dark. I can’t drive— I’m blind!”
The Second Problem
You go quickly to the next car, and bang on the windshield: The second driver tries to roll down his window, but he has great difficulty. You look at his wrists, and you see that he is in handcuffs. “I don’t know how this happened,” he says, “but when I got in the car, someone was hiding in the back seat. He slapped these handcuffs on me and then took off. I can’t drive— I’m bound!”
By now, the folks in the cars behind are getting ready to riot: Horns are blaring, and people ten rows back are standing on pick-up trucks, waving their fists, and hurling abuse.
The Third Problem
You move to the third car, and bang on the window. “Sir, these people have a problem. They can’t move their vehicles. I need you to move your car now!” There is no response, and when you look more closely, you see that the driver in the third car is slumped over the wheel. He is dead.
Now picture the scene: Crowds of people are shouting abuse, blaring their horns, and bellowing what they will do to the drivers in the front row, if they don’t get moving.
Everyone is angry, but you have compassion. Why? Because you understand the problem: One man is blind, another is bound, and a third is dead.
Understanding the Human Condition
There is a kind of Christianity that is angry with the sinful world and rails against the evils of our time. It is angry because it does not grasp the human condition: By nature, we are blind, bound, and dead. We cannot see the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4). We do not have the power to stop sinning (John 8:34), and we will not come to Christ and follow him (John 5:40).
Blaring the horns of condemnation may give vent to Christian frustrations, but it does nothing to solve the human problem. People who are blind, bound, and dead need a Savior who is able to open their eyes to the truth, set them free from the powers that bind them, and raise them up in the power of a new life—and this is precisely what God offers to all of us in Jesus Christ.
Our mission is to bring the light, liberty, and life of the gospel to people who are blind, bound, and dead. When we grasp the extent of the human problem, we will exercise this ministry with compassion.
Go deeper on the doctrine of sin in the free course Watch Your Doctrine with Pastor Colin Smith. This course is part of the Open the Bible for Leaders training program, an online resource designed to help small groups and ministry teams watch their lives and doctrine closely. Preview the course below.