Way back in 1940 the philosopher C.E.M. Joad wrote: “We have abolished the fear of God and instead we live in constant fear of man. We have done away with the idea of a hell in the future and we have succeeded in turning our lives in this world into a living hell”. Eighty-two years later the same could be said of our world today. Men and women live in fear – of Covid, climate change, economic collapse, violence, exploitation of the young, neglect of the old, inevitable death and so on and so on.
The most we can do about any of these fears, if we can do anything at all, seems so insignificant compared to the size of the problem. Yet we try, as if man can solve everything. So many are still followers of the dictum of A.C. Swinburne, the 19th century writer: “Glory to Man in the highest! For Man is the master of things”. In complete contrast, Jesus said: “apart from me you can do nothing.” [John 15:5].
Is there not a great, urgent need for men and women to replace all their fears with a true fear of God? When the angel Gabriel came to Zechariah in the temple “he was startled and was gripped with fear”. Then when Gabriel visited Mary she was “greatly troubled”, and the reaction of the shepherds to the angelic visitation was that “they were terrified”. On each occasion the angel’s response was “Do not be afraid”. Each of these three persons, through the angel, came face to face with the presence, power, word and grace of the living God. Is not the greatest need of our day a fresh visitation of God to his people by the Holy Spirit in revival? Is not our greatest duty in our day to pray for that revival? Shall we resolve to go into 2022 praying that the Lord will show us, and our nation, what he is saying to us through, among other things, Covid, the social and moral malaise, the tragic weakness of the church in our time?
In a letter to a friend in 1945, the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote: “I long for revival comparable to that of the 18th century. More and more am I convinced that there, and there alone, lies our hope. I believe that the people at the back of the ‘Faith for The Times’ Campaign are beginning to see that now. But they so enjoy organising activities and meetings!” Almost eighty years on, do we have the faith and the conviction to bear that burden forward? Let us encourage one another in this at our Spring Event: 12th March, URC Hall, 9.45am-12.30pm.
Your brother in Christ,