An oft-told story says that the London Times ran a bold question, “What’s wrong with the world?” As you might imagine, multiple answers came into the newspaper including long diatribes and criticisms of every kind. But perhaps the answer that got the most attention came from G.K. Chesterton, who sent a response of just four words: “Dear sirs, I am!” Whether it is accurate or not, it remains profound.
Not many of us are brave enough to accept our individual responsibility for the ills of our lives or even some of the problems of our society. It is too easy to hide behind others that we wish to blame.
One of my enlightening experiences in clinical training was a requirement to attend several self-help groups and learn their advice in dealing with problems. One such group was Alcoholics Anonymous. As a guest, I was not allowed to speak, but I noted that every member had to begin his participation by saying, “My name is (blank) and I’m an alcoholic!” The entire group then responded, “Welcome, (blank)!” The ticket of admission to that group was identifying yourself as one who shared the problem.
It occurred to me that we begin in the same place before God. I can’t get very far in faith until I am ready to admit, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” It’s an essential place to start. I can’t start by acknowledging my parents’ sins (or faith) or blaming another person for my issues in life. I must start by accepting my responsibility!
Most of the advertising I see for the political positions available tells me what’s wrong with “the other person — the one who is my opponent in the election.” There’s way too much blame in this process.
May I suggest a good place to start for most of us in changing our world would be on our knees, confessing what I already know: I know I am a sinner. Forgive me. Let me become part of the solution rather than the problems around me!
Jesus faced most of the criticism of His ministry from those who were the self-righteous of His day. Perhaps all of us need to take a step back and join with Chesterton’s confession: “Dear sirs, I am.”
How would our world change if we began to see ourselves that way?