Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)
Relate: I have been reading a bit about happiness lately. There was a major gallop poll conducted a few years back to find out who are the happiest people on the planet. This pole found that the Irish are the unchallenged champs at keeping that smile on their face. About the time the pole results were made public a few different magazines reported on it. Time Magazine wrote this about the land of the leprechauns: “Debt-laden Ireland faces a gloomy economic future, yet its population is among the cheeriest on the planet, reporting high levels of well-being and contentedness.” The Irish Times wrote this about themselves: “Who’s happy? We are, apparently. Despite toppling over an economic cliff, Irish happiness is proving itself robust.” I am ashamed to admit that my knee jerk thought on reading these lines was: “I guess there’s something to be said for drunkenness after all.”
A common T-shirt in my adopted home that I absolutely love says, “I can’t keep calm, I’m Turkish.” Unlike the version I have shown here, I usually see it with a fez and mustache. Either way, the reason I love it and the reason it is so popular is because the stereotype is so often true. For good or ill, there are national stereotypes that do exist. Volkswagen likes to brag about “the power of German engineering.” The Italians are passionate yet disorganized. The Japanese have a culture of rigid honor. The British are incredibly polite… unless they start talking football (what lazy Americans call soccer). The Spanish (and Latin cultures) like their afternoon naps. The Swiss are the opposite. They have no army but every army uses Swiss knives.
Did you ever wonder where these national stereotypes came from? They didn’t always exist. Go back far enough and it was the Italians (Romans) who had the engineering while those Germans were passionate and disorganized. For right or wrong I tend to hold the view that history is marked by great men, leaders for good or ill, who stood against the flow of culture and society. In doing so these heroes and villains created a new flow in their wake. Because of one man, a national stereotype is born. While in some instances my view might be wrong, but with regard to sin and grace I know for a fact I am right.
React: Just think. Adam sinned. He and his wife introduced to the world a pattern, a habit of destructive behavior and the entire flow of human history got caught up in that current. There was no way to resist it. No way to go against that flow, until Jesus. Now there are two flows, two streams that carry us along: sin and grace. Which one pulls at us depends entirely with where we choose to stand. Am I standing with Adam (literally, “man”) or will I stand for Christ? Will I be caught by His grace or dragged along by the sin of the world?
Thank You for standing against the current of sin. Thank You for providing a new way, a new current in history. Help me to stand now with You. Help me to walk in Your flow, creating a new wake behind me making it even easier for those who come behind to follow You. Don’t let me use national stereotypes as an excuse for my sin. Don’t let me use the human condition as a cop out for not living free of sin. You have provided a new way. A better way. Help me to walk in it.