Yes, when the “heart becomes really deceitful above all things,” it truly becomes “desperately wicked.” People have trouble understanding this if they have not experienced profiling or the inability to find a job. But the Church must understand. It must understand how our core relations affect everything, for better and for worse. With this recognition will come new opportunities for healing alienation and mistrust.
First, we need to think incarnationally by placing ourselves on the side of the alienated, just as Jesus did. Jesus comes to us as a circumcised Jew, a member of a politically disenfranchised class in a land occupied by Romans, a man from a ghetto known as Nazareth (see John 1:46). Jesus knew alienation through and through, but responded in a transformative mode. He affirmed the humanity of the non-Jew, the uncircumcised, the despised Samaritan, the slave, the woman of ill repute, the foreigner or immigrant with his unfamiliar language and Greek culture, and even the hated Roman soldier who represented the occupier. As theologian Ray S. Anderson wrote in The Shape of Practical Theology (IVP Academic, 2001): “Jesus penetrated through these social and cultural forms of humanity and addressed the true humanity of each person, and so revealed his own humanity as the touchstone of divine grace.”
Second, incarnational thinking opens us to what we would rather avoid in ourselves, and it calls us to community. Why do I feel uncomfortable around you? Do I focus on another’s rage to hide my complicity in it? Am I afraid of losing popularity? Church leaders should cultivate human souls (see Heb. 13:17) by teaching them to build community. The incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, is the model. He comes not as the doctor diagnosing and exacting a cure but as one who suffers with us. The poor and marginalized trust Jesus because he becomes them (Phil. 2:7; Matt. 25:40). Intentionally hearing one another’s stories is essential to “breaking down the dividing wall” that fosters alienation (Eph. 2:14).
Read it all.