Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 29, 1970
NUMBER 38, PAGE 4-5a

Hand-Wringing Isn't Enough


We have been reading "end-of-the-year" editorials in all kinds of journals, listening to radio and television commentaries and programs, and talking with many different people these past few weeks. And we are about full up to here (or "there" — whichever is the fullest) with their dreadful and calamitous predictions of the ominous future. We have heard about black revolutions, student riots, pot on the campuses, and on down into Junior High and even the elementary grades. We have agreed with most of what we have heard: there is a frightening decline in the moral fabric of our nation and our society. Obscenity seems almost to approach the debauchery of Rome at its worst; venality in high office, cynicism and dishonorable dealings in business; agnosticism or even atheism dressed in robes of the clergy — all of this has been brought before us these past few weeks in a seemingly endless flood of articles and programs. Almost to the point of despair and hopeless nausea. Race relations, the population explosion, pollution of the atmosphere, disastrous inflation, the arms race, the youth rebellion — where do we stop? The list of problems could be almost endlessly extended.

But in the long perspective of history, our problems are probably no greater to us than were the problems of preceding generations to them. Of course they seem greater. But this is so because we view their problems in the light of history, and not in the immediate context in which ours are cast. We know that in some fashion, sometimes at incredible cost in human suffering and despair, the world managed to survive its former crises. But we aren't at all sure that such will be the case with this generation. Or if we do manage to survive, it may well be that civilization will revert back to the stone age or some such unthinkable period.

Well, we agree with the dire possibilities so often suggested. But we are antagonistic to the philosophy of pessimism and hopelessness which so many of the Jeremiahs among us project. We do NOT view the situation of the world, society in general, or the church of our Lord as being beyond redemption. The problems faced by all three are staggering, to be sure. But hand-wringing and self-pity and bemoaning of fate are not the answer!

Get Involved!

Take a close look at the early Christians. The Jewish nation was a captive people. The pagan world was surely as morally depraved as anything the twentieth century could produce. (Read Paul's description in Romans, chapter one). Poverty, disease, cruelty were surely as wide-spread then as they could possibly be now. And, even to intensify the problem, these first Christians were outcasts from their own race. His own nation had crucified the Savior; and the Jewish leaders hounded the apostles and the early Christians unmercifully, Saul of Tarsus is a prime example. He was "breathing out threatening and slaughter" against the disciples of the Lord. (Acts 9:1). How easy it would have been for these lowly peasants, hated by their own people, abused and ridiculed by the arrogant Romans, despised as atheists and cannibals by the intellectuals (atheists because they did not believe in the pagan gods; cannibals because they periodically held a festival in which they were reputed to eat the flesh and drink the blood of one of their gods!), constantly brought into court by a wide variety of false charges — how easily they could have despaired and given up!

But they did not give up. They got involved in the most tremendous movement in human history, the spreading of the gospel of Christ. This became such a towering passion in their lives that everything else on earth paled into insignificance in comparison. The very world itself might be on the brink of total disaster, even destruction, but the Christians were not wedded to this world. They looked for a city whose builder and maker was God; they were pilgrims on the earth, and here only for a few fleeting years. Their citizenship was in heaven.

Here, in our judgment, lies the answer, the solution for present day Christians. It is a way of sobriety, sense, and sanity. Let Christians involve themselves in advancing the kingdom of God, the rule and reign of God in the hearts of men. This is our first and great objective. In achieving it we will, of course, seek to bring to bear all the knowledge, the skill, and the judgment of which we are capable. We will follow the example of Paul who became "all things to all men" that he might by all means save some. If Christian people have the kind of commitment they ought to have in this matter of winning souls to Christ, they will have little time to worry themselves into an early grave over race relations and population explosions. Hand-wringing and direful laments aren't going to help. Positive action is called for. Get involved! Let the seventies find you triumphant in soul-saving rather than terrified by a sick society.