By Dr. Foster H. Shannon
We have been doing a study at home on the book of Philippians. It is worthwhile, enjoyable and good. This last week I was struck by one passage:
“that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” (Philippians 2:15)
Wow! this was written about 62 A.D. by the Apostle Paul. Who can find anything appealing in “a crooked and perverse generation”? Don’t we want to live in peace among people who are all good? What is happening to us?
We live with a lot of problems: a vicious drug traffic that is doing great damage to our neighbors in Mexico, that is enabled by the people in North America who are buying the drugs. In doing so, they not only contribute to evil, but those who use the drugs do damage to themselves. Mothers who destroy their unborn children; more than one-third of our children being raised in homes without a father; a devastating homicide rate, much worse among the black population; mass killings in public areas by young males, most of whom are white. Overseas, the incredible manifestations of evil seen in the blood-thirsty actions of ISIS in Syria, in Iraq and in neighboring countries. Boco Haram in Nigeria are killing and kidnaping thousands of people, and treating them terribly.
It is proper to ask, Is there a remedy? And the answer is yes. The God who created us loves us and desires for us to have good lives: to rejoice in our Lord, to obey his teachings, to sing and dance in his presence.
What are we to do? We abuse others, steal, lie, and embezzle. We eat too much and drink too much, honoring pagan gods that encourage us to “eat and drink and be merry”.
We do better to begin with the Ten Commandments, continue with the Old Testament prophets, and regularly study the teachings of Jesus and of the apostles in the New Testament. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to take care with our speech, that we avoid disparaging others. It appears that many Christians hit their high point when they believe in Jesus and are baptized, which is vital. But we are to grow in knowledge and strength—not assuming that now we can just get along with our regular lives. The point is this: If we want good for ourselves and others, we must draw closer to our Lord, and encourage others to believe in him.
Our God is a magnificent healer, but we have to want to be healed. We do that by reading and considering his word—by doing our best to order our lives according to his teachings—to recognize that we cannot make it on our own; that we need his help.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)