Sin is insanity.
This week marked one year since the death of Robin Williams. So yesterday, in his memory, I decided to watch one of his films. I chose Patch Adams.
The film begins with Robin Williams character turning himself into a mental hospital because of suicidal thoughts.
Throughout the opening scenes of the movie, you watch Robin observe the lack of empathy among the staff for the patients of the hospital. He ends up bonding with the patients, helping them and being helped by them as well. As a result, he chooses to become a doctor to help people.
Now, what does this have to do with sin? Well, think about this: this movie shows the wide gap we have in our culture between the sane and the insane. The sane are trying to survive this crazy world, and the crazy are kept behind closed doors, to be cared for by doctors. But, what if we have it all wrong. What if all of us are insane and need to be brought out of it?
The Crazy Ones
When we think of someone who is insane, we tend to think of someone who is delusional, schizophrenic, has hallucinations and makes ridiculous decisions while thinking they are being completely rational. Or, as the old adage goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I want to take a much larger step and say that all sin is insanity.
G.K. Chesterton in his book, Orthodoxy, alludes to this when he describes a man who thinks he is Jesus Christ.
…if a man says that he is Jesus Christ, it is no answer to tell him that the world denies his divinity; for the world denied Christ’s. Nevertheless he is wrong. But if we attempt to trace his error in exact terms, we shall not find it quite so easy as we had supposed. Perhaps the nearest we can get to expressing it is to say this: that his mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle. A small circle is quite as infinite as a large circle; but, though it is quite as infinite, it is not so large.
Now, what exactly constitutes this circle? What exactly is the problem with the insane man’s logic? For one, he’s created his own circle. One that is certainty too small to actually fit the way reality is.
It’s a shoe that is more than a few sizes too small to comfortably fit the universe. But also, it’s that the circle represents his presuppositions. What he believes reality to be. His presuppositions are wrong, therefore he’s wrong, to the point that it drives him insane.
Francis Schaeffer writes in How Should We Then Live
There is a flow to history and culture. This flow is rooted and has its wellspring in the thoughts of people. People are unique in the inner life of the mind- what they are in their thought world determines how they act….People have presuppositions…the basic way an individual looks at life, his basic world view, the grid through which he sees the world.
Name It And Claim It
We as Christians make a universal claim that the God of the universe has revealed Himself exclusively in Jesus Christ through the Scriptures. We believe that the Bible’s explanation of reality, is the way reality is. This is why the Apostle Paul can make this claim in Romans one:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:21-23 ESV)
Firstly, we see that all mankind knows of God. This is revealed in the conscience and man’s awareness of morality (weakened by sin, but still exists i.e. Romans 2).
Secondly, we see that man refuses to worship God, and as a result becomes futile in his thinking. Futile could be another way of saying, that man becomes insane when he chooses to create his own reality. When we don’t see things the way God does, we are looking at the world through a false set of presuppositions. When we don’t believe God, we believe something else that throws everything else off. It moves our thinking, behavior, and actions out of orbit.
Thirdly, we see that man retreats inwardly, and creates idols to worship. He’s not blindly worshiping idols. He’s worshiping idols because he’s convinced himself that these idols have the knowledge, power and beauty that only God has. He’s using his finite mind to try and create an infinite one.
The Apostle Paul uses the word exchange for a reason. Eve exchanged God’s knowledge, for a lie that Satan told her. She exchanged her worldview for a different one; a worldview that was not in sync with the world God created. As time went on, mankind kept exchanging God’s truth and creating his own ideas of truth (Gen. 6:1). This means that the insane people are not the ones we keep in hospitals, delivering medicine to suppress the symptoms of their illness. The insane people are us. We aren’t rejecting man’s definition of sanity, but God’s. The insane ones are those who under the reign of sin.
Let There Be Sanity
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 ESV)
The world is in darkness, and loves the darkness (John 3:16-21). The world is blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4). The world has a backward sense of thinking (Rom. 1:18-31). But, guess what? We have Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). We have the true knowledge of God (2 Cor. 4:6-7).
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Corinthians 4:5-7 ESV)
Paul here says that the gospel is the light of knowledge of Christ. This knowledge draws man out of his darkness, and gives him sight. It gives him new eyes to see the way the universe really is. It restores sanity back to people, and reconciles them to God, as He adopts them as His sons and daughters.
Mankind is insane because of sin. But, the gospel restores us back to sanity, and more importantly, to our Maker.