How Do I Live In This Mess?
God did great good when He created man. Man is unique among all of God’s creatures simply out of the fact that he is fitted to act from his own volition rather than from a law of necessity. Everything man does is only the fulfillment of what he has before decided of his own will. C. S. Lewis has properly observed that "wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way." Misuse of good, illicit use of right things, poor motives, selfish use of desires, appetites—all these and more constitute the basis for immorality. And in all of it, man’s own selfish choices are the culprit.
We are bound to live in our atmosphere. Atmosphere is important . we are so attached to our own that when we leave it we must, as do the astronauts, take a little of it with us where we go. And there are different kinds of atmosphere some are humid, some arid; some are warm, others not so warm, but in every area people have adapted to their atmosphere. The ability of man to conform to his surroundings is amazing.
We live in a mess, an atmosphere where restraint has been cast aside and where what might be called "moral liberty" runs rampant. People today have lost their sense of shame. The blush is as outmoded as bustled skirts and high-button shoes. Pornography is not only tolerated, but its purveyors legally protected. Drug use has run through every age group, beginning with the young adults and running all the way down to grade school students. Prostitution is openly practiced as immoral women ply their trade openly on street corners as well as in fancy hotels. Bad language , absolute gutter filth, is everywhere and no ear, no matter how tender, is excerpted from it. Marital promiscuity has become so common as to be expected. Television programs depict it as the norm and in doing so promote it to a level of respectability. Lying, cheating, stealing, are excused today as being just good business and shoddy workmanship is practiced without excuse or apology.
This, then, is the atmosphere in which we live. Can we overcome it? Can we, in the midst of such filth and decadence, stand up for purity and righteous living? I say we can. We not only can, we must! It’s up to us to pervade society, to seek to show that there is a sublimated way of living that not only makes better people, but better living; and in the end, eternal life.
But how can we do it? We are so few; they are so many. Besides, look at the appeal of evil. How can we be expected to contend against such appeal? Evil imposes no hardships, it requires only that one conform; it removes moral barriers and opens new frontiers for enjoyment.
But we can do it. I suggest:
- That we stop being timid about who we are and accept the challenge. Sure, it’s hard. We must not be weary in our well-doing (Galatians 6:9); we must remain constant (1 Corinthians 15:58). And we have no reason to be ashamed of our Master or of His gospel. We walk with the King! Let’s act like it.
- That we develop a sense of well-being about who we are. It takes confidence to win and we of all people should be most confident. Do you realize that while we stand with God we cannot lose? It’s so! There is no power that can stop us (Romans 8:35-39)—not even death (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). So let us be bold and fearless, for ours is the victory!
- That we learn again what is the value of the spiritual. All of us know that at one time, when we first obeyed the gospel. But we tend to let it slip away. We need to return to it. To understand the value of the spiritual is to relegate our trial and difficulties to their rightful place of only relative importance, to tune our minds to the noble, the sublime, the truly great; to aim higher; and to work harder. Our heart and our treasure are at the same place. Let us begin again to look up, not out.
We can do it. We not only can exist in this mess, we can change it. With neither shame nor diffidence, let us concentrate on where we are and who we are and realize that ours is a grand mission even though it must sometimes be in the midst of a mess.