Australia has been gripped in the last two weeks by reports that sewing needles have been found in punnets of strawberries sold at supermarkets. One person has been hospitalised as a result of ingesting one of these booby-trapped berries.
As the story has come up in conversation, I’ve noticed the same themes coming up:
”What kind of sick person would do such a thing?”
”Someone must be really evil to do that.”
”How can they live with themselves?”
”How could they do that to other people?”
Essentially what’s happened is that someone (for reasons as yet unknown) has taken something good, enjoyed by young and old across the country at this time of year, and made it something bad. They have corrupted, exploited and abused it.
Which is just what we’ve all done with God’s good blessings.
Going right back to the Garden of Eden, human beings took something God made and ignored God’s rules for it. They ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – which was to be observed as a monument to God’s moral authority, but not touched – and did their own thing with it, exploited it for their own gain (Genesis 3:1-7). It’s a lot like sticking needles in strawberries.
This is all of us, and we can’t do otherwise. Because of sin, we all naturally have a warped ethical framework, a moral compass that just spins endlessly (see Romans 3:9-18). Philip Edgcumbe Hughes put it simply and memorably: “Everything man touches he perverts.” 
“Everything man touches he perverts.” Philip Edgcumbe Hughes (1915 – 1990)
But this is exactly why we need Jesus. Where we have failed miserably, Jesus has succeeded. He always did things God’s way, always submitted to God, and never once abused or exploited God’s goodness and blessing.
And then he died as a perfect sacrifice for us, to pay the price for our corruption, our depravity, and our sin-sickness. He made a way for us to have a fresh start, to have our warped ethical framework straightened, and our moral compass recalibrated. Ephesians 2 maps out this journey from death to life:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1–7 ESV)
Live it: As we think about the evil and depravity in the world around us, remember that we were all like that, and that’s the reason we needed Jesus. Also, don’t respond to evil in the world with pride and self-righteousness, but respond to it with the gospel.
– Clint Lombard
- John Blanchard, ed., The Complete Gathered Gold: a Treasury of Quotations for Christians, Accordance electronic ed. (New York: Evangelical Press, 2006), paragraph 9175.