The Right Order
|Righteousness implies putting things in the right order. You may have
heard that religion is here to support civilization. That is the wrong order. Civilization is here
to support religion because religion as such offers mankind the highest dream there is. It is a
dream of quality of life fulfilled in God and benevolent harmony among all peoples that on earth do dwell. This
vision of harmonious and spiritually fulfilled living is the goal of mankind. Whether the world even survives
destruction may depend on how much of this religious vision can be fulfilled on earth. But this
harmonious vision is the ultimate goal for mankind regardless of whatever civilization, ours or another yet to
come, holds this harmonious vision in
trust for the peoples of the world.
Civilizations may come and go but the vision of religion is the highest accomplishment that is before mankind today and ever. The vision is the ultimate challenge of civilization to accomplish partially. Until we accomplish part of it, civilization will not be really obtained. If any of the religious high vision of harmonious co-existence, is even partially accomplished, then the high vision of world civilization will be that much nearer true civilization.
Whether our decadent, amoral, secular thinking civilization which holds to the idolatry of self and the real purpose of life as realization of a materialistic obsession with things, whether this badly valued civilization goes down or not, is not the issue. I suspect our civilization will go down, fade and perish, its values being what they are: unmoral, inharmonious, and selfishly obsessed. Also our present civilization seems to believe the way to guide people is through violence when bribery to be like us fails. But religion with all its defects will continue to maintain a universal vision of more peace than we have and work towards the state of benevolent creativity that religion fosters at its best. Of course some religions are now at their worst.
Do not think I am saying Jehovah will strike our civilization down. Our self-destructive civilization is causing its own fall and disintegration from violations of natural law and moral laws. God does not have to contribute anything. We bring ourselves down as a civilization. God does not. In fact God is doing much to help us avoid the inevitable bitter end that comes from our committing the world to moral suicide and self- destruction through emotionalism, selfishness, non-magnificence of mind, vengeful pettiness and jealousy, and materialism. Add to this, vast murdering, massacres and wars through uncontrolled technology that are labeled ď progress.Ē But this progress is a devilís progress. Is it technological progress to invent dysfunctional things?
But we should remember one use of our civilization is to further religion and the dream of the churches, different faiths and denominations of bringing in harmony on earth. All religions dream of this. The church is more important than civilization. And civilization needs the churches and religions to keep them closer to the original dreams of peace held by their religious founders and prophets. Of course I know the highest quality of harmony never will be perfectly brought to this earth. But a higher and more harmonious quality of life is possible than the one we now know and have. Perfect is not the code word we are working for. Better is the code word and goal to be worked for. However, you may not achieve better through doing worse.
We all are aware modern religion is as dysfunctional as modem civilization because modern religion is a mirror of the wretchedly godless society around it. Religion generally does not lead anymore. It follows the worst in us. Yes, religions in the past have preached love while murdering over creeds, good words followed by bad actions.
But if we are literally to save the world or improve civilization, we must start with elevating the quality of our religions. We must do it. We cannot wait for churches as organizations to give us God. We must go out to meet grace by ourselves. Our hope is in God, and while He sometimes acts through the churches, but also He acts outside the churches. Praise God. Grace is widespread beyond formal religion.
Learning does not come only in colleges. You with practical sense know that. It comes through life. Religion does not come only in churches. It comes through and in life. We cannot wait for organized religions to come find us. We need to go out to meet grace and then bring it back to many of our empty, boring, vacuous congregations which have a wonderful paper mentality. Yet let us not stop there. It is up to us who are Godís people through grace to re-inspire, reinvigorate and reclaim the religions for God: Christians and otherwise. Our calling is beyond denominations and faiths.
What do we bring to the frightened, cowering often liberal churches? We must bring the nerve of failure that the churches have lost. The liberals are people who have ceased to believe in a God because they believe Godís cause has been weakened. They have lost their nerve of faith. They seem to have concluded God is weakened because it seems that He may work often indirectly instead of directly. The idea of a sovereign God working directly so that His means of action are known and observed and cease to be mysteries is dull witted. For God to open His actions to understanding, directness and manipulation by the foolish is foolish.
To maintain the mysterious sovereignty of God demands God must work primarily indirectly, subtlety and in ironic fashions. Working in mysterious and indirect modes is a necessity if God is to remain independent. Otherwise He will be rendered into some sort of scientifically evil machine that selfish people may work meanly and basely upon to the sorrow of the world and the personal advantage of themselves. If given manipulative information, mankind will manipulate God. Where are our minds? Donít we realize how debased mankind is. When Jesus came, He was crucified! People have not changed. A God understood completely is a completely manipulated God. But is God there?
I tell you those who have met God may testify that He is there. Or do you think Jesus was talking to Himself? St. Francis of Assisi was hallucinating? Florence Nightingale was a candidate for a lunatic asylum? Mother Teresa whom God told in Albania to go to India was mentally ill? Those who argue God isnít out there seem to me dull and obstinate. Too many honest, good leaders and followers in all faiths testify God is there. People are weakened not to believe because they donít want to believe. The Gospel is an life changing thing. Many donít want a selfish life changed.
The reason given by these non-believers to assume God isnít there is because He cannot be understood. He works in a mode ironic, indirectly and mysterious in manner. God cannot be traced scientifically like a machine. And if God were traceable, He would be another scientific machine. He would not be a mysterious loving Personality. It is because God is a personality that He can act mysteriously, secretively, indirectly and protect His Being. If God were not complex, secretive and ironic, He would not be Sovereign. He would be known and used by sinners to blow up things as science has been.
People want God to be an open book to help their faith. God may be compassionate, but He is not a fool. Tell me what you think God should do, and I will show you why He shouldnít. Our minds are shallow and human. The mind of God is infinite, often indirect and mysterious. Can you not see the low motives of these liberals? To understand God! Man who is more numerous on the world than tiny parasites on a dog, cannot understand God. Why is the finite to understand the infinite? If we want to play philosophical word games, how could the finite understand the infinite? For the finite to understand the infinite is an oxymoronic task! It is impossible. Yet some say they cannot believe in God because they cannot understand Him? Let me tell you. The time to run is when you can understand Him.
Our simplistic minds now cannot understand everything we should understand to take part in life. Consider the complexity of life and the simplicity of our minds. We skate in life upon the assumed ice of custom moving over frozen ponds of complex consciousness which are beyond our mindís understanding We live by assumed custom which is merely frozen faith. But it has little room for the warmth of God. Where in the cultural assumptions is the love of God as found in the spirit of those who met Jesus Christ?
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.