Theme: How Do I Live in this Mess?
by Almon L. Williams
Secularism is much more subtle enemy to true religion than is false religion. Firstly, we can have the form of true religion even when we have already sold out to secularism. For example, Paul speaks of those who have a “form of godliness” but deny by their worldly lives “the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5). Secondly, even the appeal of much of false religion has been mainly the appeal of its materialistic features. In fact, was this not the enticement which many Israelites felt for much of Canaanite religion? ls not secularism, then, the answer to the question regarding the cause of the decay of so many Christians?
Indeed, we have forgotten that, as “stewards (managers) of God,” we must be “faithful” to God (1 Corinthians 4:2), and we have taken our eyes off of “him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27) and away from “Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith” (12:2). The result has been that since we have had nothing to look to, except the saeculum, i.e, the age or generation in which we are living, we have filled our hearts with material and worldly things so much that we are staring not at “the things which are not seen” and “eternal” but at “the things which are seen” and are “temporal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). The remedy is, to use the language of the world of business, to reorganize management, cut costs, and increase profits.
Reorganization of Management
Hear again the soul – booming words of “l am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect” (Genesis 17:1). Also, let us believe that the dear words of “l will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5) are true of all believers. In short, let us recognize God again as the sovereign Chairman of the board and allow Him to take over the management of our lives. Can we, then, believe that God is in the driver’s seat of the universe? Can we believe in His almighty power as exemplified by the following two examples?
1. God can control natural law without a miracle. Did He not send rain in Elijah’s day after three and one-half years of drought not by a miracle but by “a little cloud out of the sea, like a mans hand” which became “black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain” (1 Kings 18;44-45)?
2. God can control human affairs. Did He not answer His promise to Paul that “no man shall set on” him “to hurt” him not by a miracle but by using the pagan Gallio to keep the Jews from harming him (Acts 18:9-16)”I ln such a faith, the psalmist declares, “surely the wrath of man shall praise thee” (Psalm 76:10). Now, since we have reorganized management, let us cut costs and increase profits.
Cutting Costs – Increasing Profits
Since we have not been increasing our capital (Matthew 25:14-30), we have been losing even that which we have (Matthew 25:29: 13:12). Our record is one of loss, not of gain. The reason is that our faith has become adulterated with secularism, The “faith without works” is dead, unable to save, and profitless (James 2:14-26). Further, the faith without love (Galatians 5:6) “profiteth nothing” and makes us “nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2-3). Such losses are too costly to continue to bear, for they may cause us to lose everything, even our souls (Matthew 16:26).
As a result, being “renewed in the spirit of” our mind (Ephesians 4:23), we can maximize our profits. So are our orders from Headquarters, “Make a profit or else!” With a revived faith, “godliness” (i,e. reverence for God), indeed, “is profitable unto all things” (1 Timothy 4:8) and such “profiting may appear unto all” (1 Timothy 4:15). Further, we must lay up for ourselves the imperishable treasures (Matthew 6:19-21), and we can do so as our gifts of love produce “fruit” (i.e. interest or profit) for us in our heavenly “account”
(i,e. record) (Philippians 4:17).
To have successful spiritual management in a secular world, we must use shocking words to shake us out of our lethargy even as our Lord often did to the dull hearts of His day when He recommended for His disciples to perform the rough surgery upon themselves of tearing out an eye or cutting off a hand rather than to lose the whole self in hell (Matthew 5:29-30). “Awake to righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34),
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE FEBRUARY, 1984