These days I lead a very quiet life. Hospital and clinic visits, I’m pleased to say, are much rarer than they were. Shopping is kept to a minimum, and even church-related journeys are only a couple per week (including my trip to Reading). But even so, I am finding the weekly increase in traffic noticeable. I know that government figures report new cars on the road increase by some 2 million plus every year. One wonders how long this can go on, given that often the worst part of any journey is negotiating the parked cars on either side of the road.
According to the famous (make that infamous) nostrum from the turn of the 20th century, “Every day in every way things get better and better.” Well, the French philosopher who coined that phrase, ended as a suicide. And, frankly, I doubt that it was ever true.
Looking at the world scene, or even the domestic one, the immediate future is clouded with doubt and fear. As a student of history, the present international situation is very similar to that which existed just prior to World War I. Does that mean that war is in prospect? Probably not. For all that the UN is merely a talking shop, it has sort-of maintained some sort of peace for 70 years.
So what do the people of the world actually want? Usually, just to be left severely in peace and allowed to live their lives without interference.
Even Donald Trump’s supporters in the US express similar sentiments. “At least Donald is doing something,” is often the cry when asked. He is still not seen as a ‘professional’ politician. He’s a business man and he runs his America pretty much as an extension of his normal business negotiations. In fact, he doesn’t negotiate, he frightens his opponents into submission; there is no compromise.
And it seems to be working. We may not like him; we may think that perhaps he’s somewhat unhinged, but to the ordinary American away from the sophistication of Washington diplomacy and thinking, he is fresh air. And he seems to get some things done. Well, that might change following the mid-term elections just completed, of course.
It’s interesting that Jesus, a religious leader back in Roman-occupied Judæa, was also seen as something different; out of the usual mould of politico-religious leaders. To his followers he promised peace but to those who opposed him at the time he was a frightening figure and a challenge. That peace which he left to his followers is not the peace of this world. As Mr Spock might express it, “Peace, Jim, but not peace as we know it.” Often, and it seems to be a growing phenomenon again, we actually experience hostility as we seek to live out our Christian lives according to the different rules we live by. Sometimes such hostility is deserved; often it is not.
As this world continues to descend with ever increasing speed into chaos and darkness, we remain the undimmed globes of light. A steady rock of certainty and stability amid the encircling Stygian gloom. It can put pressure, a mounting pressure, on us to conform, to match more closely our society and its norms. But as Ambassadors for Christ, we are called to a higher norm as our first priority—the standard set for us and maintained by our Lord. As He is unwavering in his love and support for us, let us resolve to be unwavering in our upholding of his way of life despite any and all growing pressure to the contrary.