TRUE Life Never Fails to Overcome
The armchair critic must leave his armchair if he is to join the number of those who become convinced that Jesus is Truth.
It appears that the strategy of Christ was to win the loyalty of the few who would honestly respond to the new way of daily living together in Him and in one another (not simply a new way of believing, or a new place to “attend”). They would be the pioneers of the new order, the spearhead of advance against the massed ignorance, selfishness, evil, “play-acting,” and apathy of the majority of the human race. The goal which was set before them, for which they were to work and pray—and if need be, suffer and die—was the building of a new Kingdom of inner supreme loyalty, the Kingdom of God. This was to transcend every barrier of race and frontier and (this is important) of time and space, as well.
The “Church” has become the name of the spearhead. The true Church is at any rate trying to carry out the divine plan. And in so far as it is working along the lines of real Truth and real Love, it cannot fail (of course) any more than God can cease to exist.
The follower of the new way is therefore called to do all he can to spread “the good news of the Kingdom,” but to realize at all times that the success or failure of the Kingdom can never be judged by simple reference to statistics of “christians” at any particular time. The Kingdom is rooted in Real, visible Life. “THIS is how all men will know.” What we sometimes call “eternity,” experienced in this life and the life to come, is the nature of True Life in the Church and in its deep relationships amongst those belonging to it and taking part in its activities.
Critics often complain that if the world is in its present state after nineteen centuries of christianity, then christianity cannot be a very good religion. They make two ridiculous mistakes. In the first place, Christianity—the real thing—has never been accepted on a large scale and has therefore never been in a position to control “the state of the world,” though its influence has been far from negligible. And in the second place, they misunderstand the nature of Christianity. It is not to be judged by its success or failure to reform the world that rejects it. If it failed where it is accepted, there might be grounds for complaint, but it does not so fail. It is a revelation of the true way of living, the way to know God, the way to live life of eternal quality, and is not to be regarded as a handy social instrument for reducing juvenile delinquency or the divorce rate. (False Christianity will provide little true change in these areas, though they may speak of it some and create short-lasting gimmicks, programs, parrot-rituals, and repeat-after-me “worship” and “services” and “ministries” to address some issues.) Any “religion,” accepted by the majority of people, can exert words of restrictive pressure—but its results are far less than the energy required to promote the man-created means. The True Life of Jesus Christ in His Life-centered daily Church changes people (if they are willing to pay the price of being changed) so that they quite naturally and normally live as “sons and daughters of God,” and of course they exert an excellent influence on the community—in the work place and places of interchange. But if the real Church, the true Body of Christ “fails,” it “fails” for the same reasons that Christ “failed”—because the world with man’s religion “hates the Light,” as the Master foretold—and any condemnation rightly falls on the world that rejects both Him and it.
(by JB Phillips et al)