1971-“The Spring of Hope, the Winter of Despair.”
Charles Dickens begins his famous novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” with the words:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”
This was the way the famous author described the year 1775. But his words apply remarkably well to our own times, especially this year of grace (and disgrace) 1971! What a bewildering array or events,most of them dismaying and very few cheering, have occurred during this year.
There was a veritable plague of natural calamities which have affected more human beings than the Ten Plagues of Egypt.There were floods,earthquakes, fires, pestilence, famine, murderous wars, revolts, world wide social and economic turmoil, a progressive deterioration of moral and spiritual standards. Life has become cheap and unsafe.Those who are supposed to set the tone for Christian thinking and behavior have themselves lost the sense of right and wrong.Instead of being witnesses for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,they have proclaimed themselves modern prophets of a new social order and the defenders of civil rights.
Evidence of how confused some of these self-appointed “spiritual leaders” can be is the fact that the 1970 General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church set aside $100,000.00 to establish an Emergency Fund for Legal Aid and entrusted its administration to the Board of National Missions’ Council on Church and Race.
And this is how the fund was used.-
A grant of $10,000 was made to the Angela Davis Defense Fund. Angela Davis is now imprisoned accused of purchasing the rifles which were used to kill a judge and three other persons and crippled another man for life. $25.000 was made available for bail and legal defense of a New York Black Panther defendant accused of plotting public bombings.The rest of the fund was used for similar purposes in the defense of various people or groups accused in connection with school and college disruptions, boycotts and strikes.
The Episcopal Church gave $40,000 to the “Alianza of New Mexico,” an organization dedicated, according to Readers’ Digest, to virtual guerilla warfare aimed at establishing a separate Chicano nation in the U.S.A.
The same Episcopal Church voted in 1969 $200,000 to the James Forman movement, who explained the aims of this movement in these words: “We are dedicated to building a socialist society inside the United States, where the total means of production and distribution are in the hands of the State – led by black people.”
Such and even more outrageous programs are seriously considered and often supported financially and morally by some official Church governing bodies.
Is this what the monies were given for by ordinary Christians,who often contribute sacrificially, in the belief that they are serving the cause of Christ and His Gospel?
Is it any wonder that the churches which support such programs are losing their members and financial support in an alarming way?
Is it any wonder that there is so much confusion in our nation, when our leaders themselves are so desperately confused?
Crime in every shape and form has so multiplied in the land, that nolife is any longer safe, and no possessions secure. Common crimes and even murders are excused or even justified on the basis of “situational ethics” or “political motivation.” The whole land is exposed to an atmosphere of lawlessness and violence.
We receive heartbreaking letters from parents whose children are the victims of contemporary decadence, of sexual immorality and drug addiction, leading to physical and moral disintegration and even death.
Twenty-six centuries ago the prophet Isaiah rejoiced that “the people who dwelt in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2).
Even so today,the Light of Christ is breaking through and millions of people all over the world are finding new Iiie in Him. This is particularly true in our own country. Only about five years ago John Lennon of the once famous “Beatles” boasted that they were more famous than Jesus Christ. Today the Beatles are all but forgotten, but our Lord is marching on, conquering the Beads of countless thousands among the so-called hippie generation. Those who neas once the slaves of drugs, alconol, sex and crime are finding freedom and glorious new life in Christ.
Many of the younger generation,long seduced by the “everything-goes-as-long-as-you-love” ethics are now finding in Christ The Way, The Truth and The Life.Instead of embracing the “God is dead” theology, they find the living God in a gloriously living Christ. Instead of following the “dialogue” theology which was supposed to take the place of personal witness, these young people go back to the simple methods of Christ and His apostles, going out into the highways and byways with great zeal, seeking to win all men for their Lord.
It should be remembered that a large number of this “hip generation” – perhaps as many as 25-30% – are Jewish.They are greatly affected by this new movement, variously known as The Jesus People, The One-Way People, and by other names. Not since the days of our Lord and His apostles have so many Jews been returning to Christ as today.
It is a matter of joy to us to know that our workers have a share in the work of the Holy Spirit, preparing the way of the Lord through their personal contacts with numerous young people, in long hours of conversation and discussion, making clear to them the way of salvation, and seeing scores accept the Messiah as their Lord and Master. Thousands of pieces of literature are distributed, BIbles, New Testaments and tracts. We are sending forth new workers into the fields which are at this time ripe unto harvest.
Contrary to the opinion of many, this is the golden age of missions, an age when the younger generation is more reachable than ever.But we must speak to them not in the old worn out terms and phrases which have become meaningless to them, but in words and ideas which they can readily grasp.
“The Jesus People”
Many friends have asked for our opinion about the explosive new movement sometimes called The Jesus People, The Jesus Freaks, The One-Way People and Jews for Jesus.
We must say that our first reaction to this movement is one of joy. What gladdens our hearts most is to see the obvious change in the lives of many of these young people who have found release from “the monkey on their back” – a the demon of drugs, and from the vices and crimes which are so prevalent today. Christ the Saviour has set them free. Their new found happiness and joy is written on their faces and in their whole demeanor.
Another cause for joy is the obvious zeal of these new believers to win others for Christ. This zeal is so reminiscent of the first disciples, who, as soon as they believed, went out to win their friends and brothers. Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, “we have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth.” John 1:45.
It is most refreshing to see these young folk witnessing for the Lord. Their sincerity and simplicity of faith is inspiring. Their zeal and missionary zest is sweeping the whole land from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
One is reminded of the words of Christ, “I came to cast a fire upon the earth, and would that it were already kindled” Luke 12:49.
There are obvious dangers inherent in this movement, as in everything that touches the human mind and spirit. There is the danger of an enthusiastic faith without deep spiritual roots and the nurture of the Word of God. Our Lord warned His disciples about it in the parable of the seed which germinated quickly, but soon died for lack of deep roots in the shallow ground. Then there is the danger that that which was born of the Spirit should not deteriorate in self-aggrandizing and self-promoting movement.
There are many new believers who join churches and seek the fellowship of other Christians, but there are those who shy away from other believers. In time they may become an exclusive or just another self-promoting sect. This is undoubtedly a danger. May the Spirit of the Lord guard them and all of us this insidious thing.
Another danger is the emotionalism and self-centeredness which often with speaking in tongues, faith healing and other charismatic movements. We believe that the Holy Spirit can and does do all these things and more, we wish to point out the dangers of “self” which often disguises itself as the work of the Spirit of God.
Nevertheless, much of what is happening obviously the work of the Lord.
“By their fruits ye shall know them” said our Lord, and as much of the fruit thus far is good. For this we praise God.
How much this movement for Jesus affects the Jews is witnessed by the Jewish Spectator, a prestigious Jewish publication of Baltimore, which comments:
“The hunger for the Word of God has seized many in all walks of life, seeking along many paths, and lacking leadership. They still resemble a dispersed herd that has not found a shepherd.”
Long ago Matthew observed about Jesus:
“When they saw the multitude he was moved with compassion on them, because they were faint and scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
The year 1971 was truly “the season of light” and “the season of darkness.” Nevertheless to us brought not a winter of despair, but the spring of hope. It is most reassuring to know that.
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness overcame it not.” It never will!