We’re Only Human

from Feb 07, 2015 Category: Articles

We had been through what was, up to that point, the most trying season of our lives. We had watched as our beloved church was torn apart by sin, slander and pride, too much of it our own. Relationships had been broken, reputations dragged through the mud. Denise and I had clung to each other through the tumult and finally found that the storm had calmed. We caught our breath, mourned the damage, but saw clear skies before us. Which is when I said to her, “Are you ready to go through this all over again?” I overcame her shock as I patiently explained to her that what we had just gone through wasn’t some bizarre aberration, a freakish anomaly. “This,” I told her, “is what the ministry is.”

The principle, however, extends well beyond the ministry. Recently, I finished watching HBO’s ten part mini-series, Band of Brothers. Based on Stephen Ambrose’s book of the same name, the account, based on real persons and events, follows Easy Company, part of the 101st Airborne from training to D-Day to Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge, to the liberation of a death camp to the occupation of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. The closing episode deals in part with the American soldiers coming to grips with the humanity of the Germans. Turns out they’re human after all.

Which doesn’t undo what they did. We comfort ourselves in dehumanizing the Nazis because such makes them something other than us. If their great crimes are an aberration, an anomaly, then we are safe. Then we don’t have to see ourselves in them. Nazis, however, is what we are. It is our nature to hate our enemies. It is our nature to kill all who stand in our way. It is our nature to smugly assume all the world needs is to be reduced down to me, and people just like me. When the war ended, however, instead of realizing we are as bad as they are, we made the mistake of thinking they’re not so bad after all; they’re just like us.

We don’t ever get past the storm because it goes where we go; we are the storm. Its being, its essence, its nature is sin, as is our nature. We carry the storm with us. It is joyfully true that in some circumstances, in some times, our Lord is pleased to declare to the storm, “Peace, be still.” But when He does, the peace we enjoy is what He wrought, not what we brought to pass. It is His grace, and His grace alone, that restrains me from killing my enemies, even those who merely inconvenience me.

Which, of course, leads us back to that immovable world changing calling—to repent and believe the gospel. I am the storm, He the peace. As I acknowledge, submit to both truths, I remember that He became the storm, and has blessed me with the peace. I remember that the real battle is within me, and rejoice in His assurance that He will win. Surrender.

R.C. Sproul Jr. is rector and chair of philosophy and theology at Reformation Bible College. Originally published at RCSproulJr.com.