All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it.
- John 1:3-5
The other day while working around the house, I was listening to news, when a commentator, in the middle of a discussion on the election, alleged voter fraud, and media bias, made the comment, “God will not be mocked.” Indeed.
In conversations and social media, the same idea is expressed in comments or posts that reassure one another God is in control. In the last meditation, I wrote something similar to that myself, saying God grants authority and power to our leaders. But I think it’s necessary to qualify my thoughts to some degree because, when I say God grants authority and ultimately has control in our world, I am not saying that God is going to win political elections on behalf of Christians. In fact, Jesus said that to Pilate just before Pilate allowed Him to be crucified. What I am saying is that God will work in the circumstances of human sin and the manipulations of evil to achieve His purposes, both for His glory and for our salvation. That is the message of the Cross. Because we live in a nation with origins in the search for religious freedom, we take for granted that God is a patriotic American. He is not. God is… well, God.
A friend asked me what I would say to Christians during this time of anxiety and crisis, and my answer is this: Christians living in American society need to ask ourselves whether we have entrusted our whole selves to Jesus Christ, or if our Christianity is more of a hobby to give us a break from the business of living? I think the time is rapidly approaching when we will have to decide how serious we are about our Christian faith.
We follow the God Who lay down His life for the world, taking our rebellion against Him, our rejection of Him, and our death from Him, into Himself, so that He could save us from ourselves. Most Christians know this in theory, but we often fail to make the connection between believing in the God Who lay down His life for our salvation and being a disciple of that same God. To be a disciple is to follow. That’s what the word means in Greek; a disciple follows. We follow Jesus Christ in laying down our lives in service to others, but we also follow Him into suffering for being children of light in the midst of darkness and into the world’s rejection of an Authority beyond the self. Yet, the sanctification that comes from denial of self is not expressed in the humble virtue of Christians across the nation. To the contrary, the contemporary church is itself chasing after the world, thoughtlessly repeating the slogan of the day, and wondering why we can’t grow mature disciples. One can legitimately ask if anyone can offer a compelling vision of mature discipleship. We may be about to discover an ancient lesson. God’s influence in human history and over human affairs is not always pleasant, but instead, sometimes comes as a rebuke.
While doing some research recently, I came across Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s famous 1978 Harvard Commencement Address. As I read it, I was struck not only by his insight, but by the prophetic quality of his words. Since he is far wiser than I, I want to share quotes from his speech, although I recommend to you the entire speech which is easily found online. He is speaking to the intellectual and spiritual developments in the Western world, as distinct from the rest of the world, beginning with the Renaissance and the rise of humanism from hundreds of years ago, conflated with the rationality of the Enlightenment. Moreover, he is speaking as a deeply Christian exile from the Soviet Union under Marxist rule. From Solzhenitsyn’s transcript (emphasis added):
[Rationalistic humanism] based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense. That provided access for evil, of which in our days there is a free and constant flow. Merely freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones. However, in early democracies, as in the American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God's creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility…
One does see the same stones in the foundations of a despiritualized humanism and of any type of socialism: endless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility, which under communist regimes reach the stage of antireligious dictatorships; concentration on social structures with a seemingly scientific approach. This is typical of the Enlightenment in the 18th Century and of Marxism… The interrelationship is such, too, that the current of materialism which is most to the left always ends up by being stronger, more attractive, and victorious, because it is more consistent. Humanism without its Christian heritage cannot resist such competition. We watch this process in the past centuries and especially in the past decades, on a world scale as the situation becomes increasingly dramatic. Liberalism was inevitably displaced by radicalism; radicalism had to surrender to socialism; and socialism could never resist communism.
Solzhenitsyn rightly saw that, without God, social systems and the ordering of human life, politically and personally, would default to totalitarianism of some sort – be it the ruling Marxism, the military despot, or the woke, cancelling culture of the morally superior and perpetually angry wounded victims. Human freedom independent of our Creator becomes a veritable fount of evil, all while proclaiming to be on the side of humanity.
As Christians we must ask ourselves to what extent we reflexively support the humanistic materialism that erodes any place for the Divine in human affairs? I think, if we took time to work through this, we would be astonished by how deeply embedded is the despiritualization of our faith. We look to God with the expectation that He is not only on our side, but also desires what we desire, that God cannot imagine a greater good than an America populated by nice people who wish everyone well with whatever belief each prefers. But that is a meaningless religion, a comfort but not a hope, a lovely dream but not salvation.
Listening to political commentary these days is akin to hammering your own head, just to see how much pain you can endure. Do I think there was voter fraud? I’d be less inclined to believe it if I heard a single report indicating that someone found bags of votes for Republicans, not just for Democrats. I am not sure how it happens that the controversial claims about voting only break to the blue map. Even so, if there was voter fraud, was it enough to make a difference? I don’t know. I voted. That’s the only certainty I can offer, at least as far as national politics go.
If history is any judge, then what we can discern is not encouraging. On one side, we’ve moved beyond liberalism to radicalism already, and socialism is on the foreseeable horizon if circumstances continue unchanged. Thus, our choices appear to be unapologetic socialism, implemented innocuously for our good and safety, as always, or unbridled capitalism. As Solzhenitsyn pointed out, socialism cannot resist communism, but then, capitalism breeds the materialistic wealth that ties us to the material world, the despiritualized physical life. We sit at a crossroads, looking down two quite different pathways, both of which lead us to misery and despair. One does so at the whim of others, and the other does so with the illusion of success and comfort. If you were God, would you allow your children to live with these two choices alone?
This nation is so divided, I do not see how we can continue forward as a united country. Alternative social media for conservatives are suddenly gaining ground, Parler and MeWe in contrast to Twitter and Facebook, respectively. News agencies and media classify by political leaning, and soon enough, we will be living with two different sets of facts, although one could make the argument that that is the case already. We can get along with one another if we speak only in trivialities. Given the intentional indoctrination into progressivism by our educational system, nothing we do today will stop the oncoming tide of totalitarianism, even if another generation needs to pass before our Republic succumbs to the waves that sweep through our places of learning.
Into this dark and depressing assessment, I would say to you that authentic, joyous Life remains the gift of God in Jesus Christ, the Life that is a Light to the world. No matter what we hear, the world that lives in darkness and cannot understand the Light also lacks the power to overcome or overpower the Light. The darkness cannot win, for the Light is eternal, uncreated Life. If this nation falls apart in humanistic hubris grabbing power and feeding greed, the Life that is the Light of the world remains steadfast. It does not fade or falter but continues to hold the darkness at bay.
The choice before us today is the same choice that is placed before every human being from the time of Jesus Christ. We can choose either to be Christian all the way, with our whole heart, trusting in Christ to meet all our needs, or we need to give it up, let it go, lest we discover that we are the ones mocking God. If Jesus Christ is Who we say He is, then He is worth whatever the cost to know and to attain. If He is not as smart as our scientists and intellectuals, our doctors and our therapists, then let’s just not bother. It’s way too much trouble to be a Christian if Jesus isn’t the Son of God. Let us not underestimate God by thinking too little of Him.
Rod Dreher’s most recent Number 1 best-seller is titled for Solzhenitsyn’s last essay to the Russian people just prior to his exile: Live Not by Lies! Quoted by Dreher, Solzhenitsyn left Russian Christians with this advice, “Our way must be: Never knowingly support lies!” Even if we cannot triumph in the culture, we do not have to accept the lies our culture tells. Quoting Dreher, “You may not have the strength to stand up in public and say what you really believe, but you can at least refuse to affirm what you do not believe. You may not be able to overthrow totalitarianism, but you can find within yourself and your community the means to live in the dignity of truth. If we must live under a dictatorship of lies, [Solzhenitsyn] said, then our response must be: ‘Let their rule hold not through me!’” That advice applies to us today, not as much as it did when Solzhenitsyn penned the words to the people in his homeland, but more than most of us want to acknowledge. Ignoring the lessons of history do not make them disappear. Ignoring them just makes us unprepared.
Solzhenitsyn was right. In spite of countless tragedies and unspeakable suffering, the truth prevailed. It always does. The darkness cannot overcome the Light. I pray that you do not hover in the shadows between Light and dark, but for the Life that you were created, you walk confidently into the Light and Love of our God.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau