“I am an involuntary witness to God’s grace, and to the fortifying power of faith.” So wrote Whitaker Chambers in a letter to his children, trying to explain to them his role in what was, perhaps, the greatest espionage trial of the 20th century. He wanted them to to know how he had, by his own actions and the actions of others, been placed in a position to either tell the truth, at great consequence to himself and his family, or keep silent and betray the truth and by doing so betray his own country as well.
When Jesus said “don’t be surprised if the world hates you”, he was suggesting that his followers were going to find themselves in the very same situation that Whitaker Chambers described. Jesus knew, as Chambers later discovered, that the truth is mostly unwelcome in the world.
The country in which we live is now engaged in a great upheaval. The issues fueling the conflict are the same issues that have fueled upheaval in the world since there were just two people in the garden of Eden.
That infamous encounter between Adam and Eve and the snake hinged on the question of whether the nature of their existence was an outgrowth of God’s purpose and design, or their own will to power.
This question has been continuously adjudicated ever since that day, in various places and times. When the signers of the American declaration of independence argued that the nature of our existence flows from the creator, they were telling the truth. When Karl Marx and his modern followers suggest that the nature of our existence is a function of our will to power, they are re-making the very same argument made by the snake so long ago.
For thousands of years mankind has been arguing, with each other and with God, over whether we should be limited only by what we can do, or whether we should seek to live out what we are for. Almost every morally and politically contentious argument in our time can be reduced to this essential question.
As Christians, we should be wary of any re-articulation of the gospel that seeks to make temporal and material concerns paramount. We should view with suspicion any form of the gospel that has the spiritually redemptive concerns of the gospel taking a backseat to the social concerns of our time. And using Jesus as our example, we should by all means love the world, but we should not be willfully blind to the adversarial response we are almost certain to receive in return.
This world is not our home. Our citizenship does not reside here. We should remember the words of a young 22 year old Robert Robinson who, in 1758, penned these verses and put them to song:
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood.
Rescued thus from sin and danger,
Purchased by the Savior’s blood,
May I walk on earth a stranger,
As a son and heir of God.