The West searches the skies for superman. Bound to earth, we settle for celebrities, athletes, and tycoons. Renewed interest in epics and mythology also evidences deep yearning for a hero; from the mists of the past perhaps an old pagan idea or power will rise again and save us from a barbarous present. The same fear and fervor causes us to exaggerate the significance of political movements and parties; when all seems to be crumbling, we long for a new order to emerge.
How welcome the Sabbath morn dawns! Last week’s labor and care clarified and sanctified by the light of resurrection, sealed with glory streaming from the empty tomb. The body’s creaking and the heart’s pains linger, but they cannot overcome the hope of new life, of the new age that has come, is coming. While on the morrow we must pick up the weapons of our warfare, today, we celebrate: the crown on his head, the preaching of his voice, the joy of his presence.
Men are sometimes completely blind to the judgment that is falling upon their very heads. Angels were sent to warn Sodom and Gomorrah of immediate extermination, but these sodomites tried to rape them. Egypt was being destroyed by horrible plagues, never to recover its former glory and dominance, but Pharaoh focused his wrath upon Moses and the Israelites. In the days of Elijah, a three-year drought, which had been promised as punishment for idolatry, caused Ahab to hunt down Elijah and the godly remnant.
At few other places is the compromise of the church more evident than the often heard claim that Sunday morning worship services should be oriented around the needs, real and perceived, of unbelievers. This is not a new view.
Great and long is the struggle for godliness in Christian homes. Never assume the contest is unique to your family, for it has raged fiercely since Cain and Abel. Nor should you think that the adoption of strict domestic policies, protectionist parenting, or cultural isolation will protect you. Satan is smarter than all your rules, curfews, and walls. Victory also does not lie in the way of family formulas, dress codes, or the hodge-podge of paradigms that sellers of “family” books parade, all promising to produce glossy and respectful children.
Two competing soul-states must have animated the various sufferers whom we encounter in the gospels. On the one hand, the specter of hopelessness was ever-present. Some had been in their pitiable condition for many years, as is stated on several occasions. The maladies of body and mind with which they were afflicted could not but have had a doleful effect on the soul. Even believers sometimes feel that their hope and strength are perished from the Lord (Lam. 3:18). While we would like to be possessed of that “hope against hope” that so inspired Abraham (Rom.
The cry resounds in the concerned corners of our land: do something. It is insisted that we are to do something about the economy, destructive civil policies, moral atrocities, and whatever other ill that can be ostensibly righted by human involvement, organization, and energy. This spirit has been with us since the Enlightenment, when man chained himself to his reason and experience, sought understanding and control of the universe without reference to God and his word, and placed all his faith in the idea of man’s unlimited potential, progress, and perfectibility.
Some years ago I knew a Christian. He was ever speaking of Jesus. I do not mean that he was incapable of conversation on other subjects, socially backward, or a religious nut, for he was a man’s man, who loved the outdoors, met no strangers, and feared nothing. No, it is simply that he loved to speak of our Lord with an earnestness and sincerity as if any other conversation, however otherwise important, either should be concluded as quickly as possible so that we might talk about the Lord or should be interwoven with Jesus’ works, words, and promises respecting that particular subject.
We have a sad tendency to read the gospel narratives as holy relics of a cherished past. We are thankful to have them and are occasionally aroused to protect our collection from wolves. Yet, like relics and mementos, they often lie beautifully stored and carefully preserved, but merely possessed, taking up space, without fulfilling the vital purpose for which they were given to us. Let us once, however, admit their inspiration and enter fully into their purpose, they become the flaming personal presence of Jesus Christ in our lives.
If we might for a moment push aside the weariness of our warfare, with its scars of past defeat and anxieties of present conflict. If faith would soar above the paralysis of guilt; if pettiness, prejudice, and party might be set aside; if righteous indignation and soul vexation might take a brief respite. The most blessed words ever uttered upon this earth might come to us again, a sentence so precious, a light so sublime, a love so pure.