It seems to me that our church, in the beginning years of the 21st century, has a golden opportunity to make the gospel real and relevant to a world that is weary of wars, weary of manipulation, weary of emptiness, and increasingly weary of moral degradation. It is a time when we should prepare ourselves to be the church at its best. We must remind ourselves that the world is ready now for the message of God, delivered by people like ourselves, who demonstrate that message in their own lives.
During most of this century, a large part of the world’s population has been in revolt against religion in general and against the church in particular. And we must recognize that some of that revolt was inevitable. Many times, we have been preoccupied with trivialities inside the church, while the world outside was in desperate need of someone to really care.
But now the pendulum seems to be swinging back the other way. All across the western world there are signs of unofficial movement of church renewal. From everywhere come reports of vitality within the church. Communism has utterly failed in its efforts to eradicate religion. They have run up against the truth of something Jesus said centuries ago: “Man cannot live by bread alone.”
Thus, a quiet revolt is beginning to take place here and there around the world. There is a spreading and growing revolt against a pagan world as more and more people face the futility of life without God.
These are encouraging signs, because the only hope for our world lies in what St. Paul called “a fresh spiritual way of thinking.” If the world is to return from the edge of despair and the brink of self-destruction, we must recognize and accept spiritual values. It is not enough to believe in science. We have seen what science can do when it serves the purpose of a pagan world. It is not enough to believe in education. We have seen in this century the unspeakable tragedy of trained minds when they are bent on selfish and destructive ends.
Above all, such elements in our modern civilization, rises the realm of spiritual values – justice and righteousness, mercy and good will. These put purpose in life and give meaning and direction to it. These are the values that were preached by the great ancient prophets. These are the values that Jesus both taught and practiced. These are the values which our world today and in the 21st century cannot afford to ignore. If we do, it is only to our own disaster.
Our modern world, with all of its pride of accomplishment, is back where that ancient world was when it first confronted Jesus. We are in desperate need of saving and I see no salvation other than that which is offered in Christ – His basic faith in God and man, and His basic principles for living. Like the early disciples, we must confront ourselves and our world with Christ. He is the one viable option to the despair, degradation, and disintegration or our pagan world.
We need to swing back to the side of the Christian gospel. Let us live and proclaim it with all that we have and are. You must no longer lie as the pagans do; you must put on that new person, created in God’s image. You must be like Christ in all things. This truth will set us, our nation and our world free.