LIVING IN A DYING WORLD
I am impressed to share the insightful teaching of Hannah Hurnard, whose writings have been like a friend to me on my own spiritual journey. Her best known book, Hind’s Feet On High Places, has blessed untold numbers of souls over the years. It challenged me early on in my journey. The teachings that I will share in these pages over the next few months are from her book, Walking Among The Unseen, which is really a compilation of several shorter published booklets. Please read them prayerfully, and invite the Holy Spirit to give you “ears to hear what the Spirit is saying” to all those who will receive Spiritual insight through them.
“Stop sitting on the fence – do something to help alter all the evil in the world around you – change the terrible conditions under which the majority of people live!”
This cry of young people today, concerned about the evil and unjust conditions in this suffering world, expresses their impatient reactions to the older generation. And, of course, they are absolutely right- thank God for their challenge. Certainly, we are not to ignore the fact that terrible injustices, poverty, homelessness, ignorance, crime and suffering abound everywhere, and that multitudes of appallingly unfortunate people are suffering in the self-created dream world of fallen, self-centered mankind. Are we just to leave them in their suffering, hoping they will learn through such nightmare conditions to hate the evil which causes these hells on earth, while we live blissfully and uncaringly, fortunate enough to know how to create wonderful and safe little heavens of our own, oases of spiritual security?
No, indeed, God forbid! There can be no peace of conscience for any of us as long as we deliberately leave any soul, let alone, multitudes of them, to suffer in self-made hells. Because that kind of neglect is, in itself, a mighty wrong and evil. It helps to create the very hells which we ignore and to which we shall, in some way, have to gravitate and share if we continue such neglect. No, we must realize with unutterable joy that heaven is one great rescue mission. The highest joy is the joy of being able to rescue others from their hells as Jesus did.
However, it is tremendously important not only to ask, “why aren’t we helping to change the evil condition in the world?” but also the still more important question, “How are we to change them”? What is the successfully method?” Indeed, is it really possible to destroy evil conditions in a self-centered world where every nation is intent on guarding its own rights and prosperity and feels that that is more important than anything else? We choose for our leaders and politicians those men who will put our own nation first and then see if perhaps there is something left over that can be spared to help the less fortunate ones, always provided that those who are helped will gratefully support their benefactors against rival powers.
How can a world governed and controlled by a spirit of selfishness be rescued from the evils and sufferings which are the inescapable results of selfishness? [Selfishness is, of course, the foundation of all sins.] This is the problem which none of the world’s leaders and politicians have been able to solve. And what unfortunate people such leaders are – to be involved in the ghastly horror of war, and not to know how to bring it to an end or to extricate one’s nation as year after year the cost in armaments, suffering and destruction grow eve greater. Or to be the leader of a backward nation, perhaps ravaged by famine or earthquake or poverty or economic troubles, and not to know how to set things right and alleviate the suffering and distress. Can there be anything more unfortunate than now know how to escape such evil?
The only method which the world has depended upon for trying to control evil has been the use of superior strength and destructive force: imprisoning criminals by force, piling up more and more destructive armaments than those possessed by other nations threatening our own, so that if possible they may be deterred by fear from attacking us, or if they do attack they may be completely destroyed. If your enemies are planning to do something against you, discover it and do it to them first! If they use devilish inventions which cause appalling suffering to countless innocent people, then grudge no cost in inventing and acquiring and using even more devilish ones, even though countless more innocent people will have to suffer as a result of it. That is the only answer to the problem which the world has known and used.
But long, heartbreaking millennia of depending on destructive force as a deterrent to evil and a means of preventing it have shown not only that it is a complete failure, but, far worse, that it has actually increased evil. But such measures alone, with wrong motivation, merely increase the problem.
[Let this rather depressing appraisal of the “way of the world” from which we are called to “come out and be separate” move us to prayerful pursuit of a better way. A repentant heart must lead us to confess that we have been, too long, a part of the problem, being “overcome by evil” rather than a part of the solution of “overcoming evil with good” [Rom. 12:21]. The continuation of these thoughts next month will speak of “The Way, The Truth, and the Life” to which Jesus calls us for “Living in a Dying World.”]