This morning one of my fellow bloggers posted a comment with a question about this quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.” She asked, “Are the Christians the only ones who see the ‘ugly and bad’ side of the world?” I posted an answer to her question in a reply comment, but the more I thought about it I realized this was a question that was worthy of a regular blog post.
The question brought up memories of reading Nietzsche in college. I never like his writing. Something else he wrote is that God did not create man, man created God. He was definitely an atheist, and though I didn’t realize why at the time, his writing always made me feel uneasy. I couldn’t avoid reading it because I was a political science major and it was required. But no one could make me like it.
I disagree with the quote my friend found. There is no Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad, but rather Christians are resolved to find God holy, good, and merciful. As Christians, we do recognize the sinful nature of mankind, but that is not what makes mankind sinful – or “ugly and bad.” Consider this, if I see the grass as green, that is not what makes it green, even if someone else does not see what color it is at all. There is evil and ugliness in the world. The fact that I and generations of Christians have seen it isn’t what brought it into existence.
I also don’t think Christians are the only ones who see the evil in the world. Even Nietzsche could see that there was something ugly and bad in the world. But Christians are often (though not always) the ones who can see the evil in our own hearts. Non-believers can easily point to others and see their evil and blame the ugly and bad in the world on them. This is essentially what Nietzsche has done in this quote. He saw external ugliness and blamed it on Christians, but never saw the evil in his own heart.
We have no control to change others and are often powerless to do anything about the evil and ugliness outside ourselves. But we can do something about the evil within; we can invite the Holy Spirit to help us overcome the ugly and bad in our own hearts. That is the Christian resolution – to rely on God to help us overcome our own evil.
“God knows people’s hearts.” Acts 15:8a. Only God knows how we have grappled with our own sinful desires and turned to Him for redemption. The prophet Samuel learned this when he thought one of Jesse’s older, taller, stronger sons would be anointed King of Israel.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7.
God had David, the youngest and smallest of Jesse’s sons in mind to be king. He saw David as a man after His own heart. Acts 13:22. Though David was not perfect, he consistently saw his own sinfulness and repented. He was able to look within his own heart and see the evil and ugliness therein; he grappled with his sinful desires and turned to God for redemption.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to grasp Nietzsche’s view and blame evil on everyone else. Rather, I want to be like David and confess the ugliness in my own heart, casting my lot on God for redemption and healing. If every person grasped the Christian resolution to not “worry about a speck in my friend’s eye when I have a log in my own” (Matthew 7:3) and sought the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to overcome my own sinful nature, then imagine what a wonderful place the world would be.