Word Magazine January 1960 Page 3
It is generally agreed among all right thinking people that the Bible is the greatest document of all times on how to get the most out of life, and to maintain the right relationship between God and man. As a matter of fact, it is the Magna Charter upon which all laws are predicated. What makes the Bible of intrinsic value to man? Why do we believe that it transcends and excels all literature of every form and variety? Because it is the revelation of God to man, containing the words of eternal life, the directive for Godly living. “Search the Scriptures,” enjoins Jesus, “for in them you think and you have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.”
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” wrote St. Paul, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
This is what makes the Bible of such transcendent value to man, it is God-inspired, and being of Divine origin it speaks with authority that is supreme, one which cannot and should not be challenged.
Anyone who earnestly and prayerfully studies the Holy Book with an open mind cannot help but reach some definite, irrefutable conclusions; namely, the oneness and the unchangeableness of God, and the oneness and the solidarity of the human race. These are the overall concepts and teachings of the Old and New Testaments. Whatever else they teach is to be considered in the light of these facts. There is no higher concept that we men could entertain than the belief that God is the first cause, the Father, who is the fountainhead of all created beings and objects both visible and invisible.
The one-God, one-world idea runs throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. We say ours is a republic indivisible, so should be our world! A divided world is like a divided house; it cannot endure for very long. One of the great Prophets of old cried, “Have we not one Father, has not one God created us, why do we deal treacherously one with another.”
Jesus whom we know and believe to be history’s most conspicuous and outstanding figure and teacher said, “When you pray say, ‘Our Father’.” Even when one prays privately. St. Paul in Athens on Mars Hill, was no less explicit when he declared, “God has made of one blood all people to dwell upon the face of the earth.”
In spite of the clear teachings of the Book, we mortal men set up our own will against the will of God, with the result that today we have a decimated, divided world.
In Syria and Lebanon, Christians are called by the Mohammedans, “Ahlul Kitab,” that is, “The People of the Book.” This is to say that our beliefs are based upon the revelations of the truth contained therein. This is true only in a poetic and academic sense but not in practice with most of us, because the kind of Christianity we manifest is a far-cry from the one revealed and practiced by the Master, in the sense that these truths remain within the covers of the Book, because we believe them to be impractical insofar as we are concerned.
We have cherished areas in our minds where no one may intrude, not even the Master. Trust and obedience are the basic principles upon which an ordered, mature, happy, harmonious life are established. Yet trust and obedience may mean different things to different people. The question arises, whom should we trust, and to whom do we owe allegiance? Are our thoughts to be governed by the Holy Spirit, or are they to be influenced by a sense of expediency? To the person who has been regenerated whose heart and mind are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, there is no alternative. God and God alone is the arbiter in the forum of conscience.
Religion therefore is a matter of convictions and not convenience and shall never become vocal and vital in any person’s life as long as it is one of his secondary interests, as long as we give it a second place in our thinking and living.
When we try to arrive at a satisfactory answer as to what constitutes true religion, we discover that God and man are two inescapable entities. For no one can actually pray to and worship God, no one can think of Christ in a creative, constructive sense, without thinking upon man, and associating the two as life’s most supreme realities. When, for instance, we review the moral laws, the Ten Commandments, upon which all laws are predicated, we discover that the first four Commandments concern themselves with one’s relationships to God, and the other six have to do with man’s relationships to other men. This is highly significant, for if we are to have no other gods before the Almighty, if we aren’t to become idolatrous, if we aren’t to take the name of the Lord in vain, were we to remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy, then we should carry these principles into the areas of all human relationships political, social and financial, into every day life and practice.
The Prophet Micah tells us in a vivid and unmistakable sort of way what is practical religion. It is not in the offerings alone that true religion is manifested, but also in civic-righteousness and social justice. “What does the Lord require of thee,” he cried, “but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.”
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is considered the world’s greatest Bill of Rights, the manifesto of the King, and the most inspiring instrument for righteous living A careful reading of it yields three definite principles: namely, what should a person’s attitude toward God, toward man, and toward one’s self? The whole duty of man resolves itself in proper consideration of these three definite attitudes.
What should a person’s attitude to his Maker according to Jesus Christ? It should be one of sincere love and devotion so that in the various aspects of worship God’s honor and glory should be the objective. Thanksgiving, prayer and fasting are to be practiced, not to be seen of men, not for self-interests but all these activities should be exercised so that we might be found pleasing to the Heavenly Father who though seeth in secret will reward the faithful ones openly.
Measuring ourselves by these declarations of the Master, we should be ashamed of our behaviors. Oftentimes, we seek recognition, the praises and plaudits of men. It seems as though most of us have not as yet learned the rudiments of Christianity.
Come further with me and let us discover what man’s attitude should be toward his brother-men? Well, according to Jesus a persons attitude toward others should be one of benevolence, love and peace. Contempt for human beings is one of the major sins of society: disdain and ridicule for those who are not in our social or intellectual class occasioned serious troubles in the ranks of men throughout history. Men either rise or fall depending upon their attitudes toward others. Before attempting to make an offering one should be reconciled to his brother-man, else it won’t be accepted. One’s motive, insofar as the opposite sex is concerned, must be, should be pure. Monogamy was to be the rule between man and wife, “For male and female created He them.”
One of the paradoxes of Christianity is that one should love his enemy. “Love your enemies,” said Jesus. “Bless them that curse you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you that you may be the children of our Father.”
What should be a person’s attitude toward himself, according to Christ. Jesus asserts that the first rung up the Christian ladder is one of utter denial, of self-expenditure. It is significant that self when spelled backwards would be flesh, In other words, the flesh must never be in control of the citadel of man’s soul, but rather must give away to the spirit. “If any man will come after me,” said Jesus, “let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”
The world is full of people who profess all kinds of creeds, and those creeds are interpreted in some intricate, hard-to-understand theological terms which confuse the lay mind. One of the unfortunate things about the Christian religion is the great difference between the various
groups. Each believes that his brand of religion is better than the other groups. These religious differences have, from the beginning, created a wall, a barrier between people, thrown them apart, divided them up until there is scarcely any harmony or unity among people who profess belief in Christ.
Christianity today is almost a contradiction of what Christ intended it to be. The one-God, one-faith, one-world concept conceived and proclaimed by Jesus, consciously or otherwise, is being lost sight of in this day and time. We, as Christians, need to go back to the basic teachings of Christianity and recapture the simplicity, the beauty and the profundity of our faith.
The world needs God-loving, man-loving enthusiasts who realize that life is an opportunity to render the greatest service to the greatest number of people. No one but has at some time or another faced himself with questions like these. Is there a purpose in living, and if there is, what is that purpose? What is the chief end of man? According to one of the great definitions. “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’’ But one could not enjoy God and glorify Him without self-giving, putting one’s self at the disposal and the command of God. Self- giving was the secret of Jesus’ power in conquering the souls of men and capturing the love and admiration of all. Jesus was the personification of love and service. He interpreted the Heavenly Father’s love to humanity in terms of service, in alleviating human suffering by ministering to their every need.
The world’s wounds are deep and present day conditions seem to make them worse. But thank God, they aren’t without hope. The Christian people, under God, posses the healing remedy to the worlds numerous ills. What an opportunity this is for Christian people to exercise their prerogative in manifesting God’s love to a strife- torn, war-torn, hate-infested world.
What this world needs is less selfishness and more self- giving, less criticism and more sympathy, less misunderstanding and more considerations, less hate and prejudice and intolerance, but more love, consideration and tolerance. The world needs God and needs Him desperately. Enthrone God and His principles in your life, and what a difference that would make!!!