The Cause of the Troubles
I am writing on board ship, en voyage to Australia, and find, as I have found before at sea, that in no other circumstances are people more ready to open up their thoughts as to important questions. The troubled state of the world seems to have made them more ready for this than ever before. Here are people who are leaving the older lands in the hope of escaping trouble and finding better conditions abroad, and here are people returning to their homes abroad who make haste to assure them that they are doomed to disappointment. The unrest is universal, and many minds are sorely troubled as to the cause of it all.
Some, with a surprising bitterness, cast the blame upon God. The way they talk simply means that if the Almighty does not exist for their own personal comfort or pleasure He ought not to exist at all. But lowlier and more reverent minds than these inquire why the world is as it is, and if the state of things is not after all a proof of the failure of the Gospel. It is our business to answer such, who are to be found everywhere. Here are some of the questions that we have discussed.
We state at once that things are as they are because men have not been obedient to the voice of God, which would have led their feet in the paths of righteousness, and they have neglected or rejected His great salvation, which would have delivered them from every evil. We have only to quote from the Holy Scripture to prove this. Take first the widespread REVOLT AGAINST GOVERNMENT, whether open or covert, could this have been if all were subject to the Word of God? What does that Word say? “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resists the the ordinance of God” (Rom. 13:1-2). “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Pet. 2:13-14).
It should be clear that if every person in every land obeyed the voice of God in this respect there would be no internal strife: Sinn Feiners, Communists, Bolsheviks, would be unknown. The political unrest in every land, where it exists, is due to the fact that men either do not know, or will not obey, the will of God.
And what of INDUSTRIAL UNREST. The workers blame the master class. They say that these have grown rich at their expense and to their hurt. Well, if this is so, it is because the masters have paid no heed to the Word of God, for in it we read, “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal” (Col. 4:1) . . . “forbearing threatening; knowing that your Master also is in heaven, neither is there respect of persons with Him” (Eph. 6:9). And the same Word that gives so gracious an exhortation to masters also solemnly warns them of the consequences of acting in injustice towards those who serve them. How powerful is the condemnation of such given in James 5:1-4, “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold; the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”
If every master had paid earnest heed to these exhortations there would have been no reasonable cause for discontent, and if any still existed it would not have lain at their door. And the warning proves that God is not indifferent to the poor and oppressed. They are wise who commend their cause to Him, for He has said “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.”
As to servants, there are many exhortations in the Bible to such; it would almost seem as though God’s deeper interest lay in this class. One of these exhortations will suffice, “Servants obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (Col. 3:22-25).
If every workman were subject to such a word as this, there might remain bad and froward masters who would still tyrannize and oppress, but the workmen would be free from blame in the matter, and such masters would have to answer to God alone.
The MARRIAGE STATE is an institution of God, and some are greatly perplexed and troubled at the lightness with which it is entered and the ease with which it is dissolved. No right-minded person could view this modern condition of things without sorrow and alarm, but it is as well to trace it to its source, and when we do this we find that it all arises from defiance of God’s own Word. There we read “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:6-9).
And again, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (Col. 3:18-19). A few words these, but if obeyed by all, the divorce courts would be closed, and every home would become a paradise.
DISOBEDIENCE TO PARENTS, we are told, is increasing greatly, and at a very early age now children get out of hand. This is not surprising in those homes where God is not acknowledged. How can those parents who refuse God’s authority expect their children to acknowledge theirs? But the Word of God addresses itself to this relationship also, for we read, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Father; provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Col. 3:20-21).
The state of the world, then, results from the fact that men will not be subject to the will of God. They prefer their own way, a way that seems right unto them, but destruction and misery are in it, and the end of it is death. Nevertheless they are not deterred, and the only remedy for all or any is the regenerating power of the Gospel. If the Gospel were universally believed there would be an end of all trouble and strife of every sort.
We do not expect this, for the Bible tells us that “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” and that the present age will be closed by the wrath of God at the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ; but while the world will not have the Gospel, and so the conditions will remain unchanged, or become worse, any man may receive it and be by it changed himself in the midst of the unchanged conditions. It is open to any to have rest in the midst of strife, to be contented and satisfied, though surrounded by discontent. Godliness with contentment is great gain, but there never was a godly man yet apart from the Gospel. The secret of all true godliness lies in the fact that God was manifested in flesh, that Jesus laid down His life in sacrifice that sinners might be saved, and that He has been raised up again to the glory of God to be a Saviour and Leader to all who call upon Him.
The boundless love of God which has come to light in Christ and is told forth in the Gospel story, wins the heart for God and makes us willing to be subject to His will, and it follows that every true Christian walking in obedience is a loyal subject of the state; a just and generous master, or a faithful servant; a loving husband, or a subject wife; a considerate parent, or an obedient child; and, consequently, as far as they are concerned, they Will not contribute in any way to these grave evils that are so ominous in their trend.