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It takes a Jew to solve this Irish problem

and the Middle East problem and the African problem and the English problem...

Hatred, terrorism, bigotry and violence concern us all. But they are just the symptoms of a far deeper malaise in the human condition that few people recognise.

For example, what motivates some people to plant bombs in trains knowing that the victims of the blast will include innocent men women and children? What goes on in the head of a person who can inflict pain and misery on others just because they are of a different race, culture or religion? What mental processes are at work in a man who is prepared to abduct, abuse and murder children for the purpose of self-gratification?

A heart condition

The current attitude to such behaviour is well illustrated by the revised version of the parable of the Good Samaritan, which features two social workers. Looking down at the victim of a violent mugging, one says in a concerned tone: "The person who did this needs help."

But is there a solution to human evil? One thing is for sure; there can be no solution for the Irish Problem, the Middle East problem, the Africa Problem or our own domestic problems unless we understand the source of those problems. For instance, a doctor who hands out pills like Smarties without determining the underlying causes of his patients’ complaints is worse than useless; he’s dangerous.

The continuing relevance of the Bible is that it presents an accurate analysis of the human condition. It doesn’t flatter us. It tells us why we are what we are, and why men behave badly. The Bible tells us we have a heart problem. According to the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9).

Moses recorded that, "The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:5)

A heart transplant

This ancient Jewish book reveals our basic problem: we’re all sinners under the condemnation of God. But it doesn’t leave it there. Far from simply damning us all to hell without hope, the Bible holds out the prospect of a realistic solution: a new heart: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26).

In Northern Ireland, former terrorists from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds are now working together for peace. In Israel there are Jews and Arabs who live together in harmony and peace even though they are poles apart politically. They know the reality of a new heart.

The man with the answer

The answer to our basic problem is beyond the power of politicians, doctors, sociologists, psychiatrists, rabbis and priests. The solution to our basic problem of an evil heart is a new heart. The one person who has the power to grant it to us is a Jew who walked the earth 2,000 years ago. He’s alive today and his name is Jesus.

He alone has the power to give us what the prophets could only speak about. Through him, morally flawed human beings can become children of God by a spiritual new birth:

"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John’s Gospel 1:12,13)

This article has appeared in various publications published by Shalom Ministries

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