Antidote for despair
Much of what people see and read about world events today appear to be spiraling towards even more violence, environmental disasters, escalating wickedness and criminality---leading to feelings of fear, grief, and despair.
The rapidly deteriorating economic condition exacerbates what is happening in almost every region of the world, thus, forcing individuals to the most desperate of actions. Suicide rates are soaring as governments slash public spending, cut wages, close public services, and eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs to cope with needed austerity measures, in effect, driving millions beyond the upper limits of their tolerance.
But there is help. God Almighty fully understands how man feels, after all, He is the Maker and Creator not just of man but of the whole universe. Through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, He teaches man the very prime necessity of life, thus: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or ‘What shall we drink? Or ‘What shall we wear’ For the pagan run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt.6:31-33, New International Version, emphasis ours).
People often expressly say, “It does no good to worry”. But the reality of things is that people do worry tremendously: about the security of their job, the safety of their children, their mortgage payment, other bills to pay, food for their family, etc. As though to pour a dose of cold water on those who worry so much on these “pagan” concerns, the Savior declared; “your heavenly Father knows that you need them…and all these things will be given to you”. God will provide---so anxious care and worriment need not be expended on them if you seek first his kingdom and His righteousness. Besides, worry creates stress. Excessive stress can create a life of depression and sadness.
Man must set his priorities straight then. The biblical command “seek first” implies that it should be the first thing to be attended to. Nothing should crowd this aside. Not food. Not what to wear or what to drink. But with most zealous effort and perseverance, man must press on till he obtains God’s kingdom and His righteousness. His mind and focus must not be diverted from this divine search. Food and clothing are minor matters in comparison with them.
The “kingdom” that must be foremost of all in man’s search was given to the “flock”, as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself assert: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32, Ibid.).
Those whom God has rescued from out of the darkness of this world had been brought to the “kingdom of the Son” wherein they have obtained redemption and the forgiveness of sins through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:12-14, Ibid.). The “flock” which was redeemed or purchased by Jesus with His own blood is the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation ).
All men need the Church Of Christ then. This “Kingdom of the Son” must not be put on the background in man’s order of priorities in life. Remember, Jesus said “seek first”.
Finding the “kingdom”, or becoming a member of the Church Of Christ is not the end of man’s responsibility tough. He must also “seek” God’s “righteousness”. This righteousness was explained by Apostle Paul, thus: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith’” (Rom. 1:16-17, NIV, emphasis ours).
The “righteousness” of God is the gospel. It is god’s powerful way of bringing all who believe it ultimately unto salvation to share in His “heavenly kingdom”. But faith in the gospel must be coupled with works or obedience (James 2:14, 17, 19, 24,Ibid.)., otherwise, it is inoperative, dead and unproductive for salvation.
Apostle Paul bolstered the need for man’s obedience to God’s righteousness or gospel when he enthusiastically pointed out such, thus: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (I Cor. 15:1-2, Ibid.).
The gospel which has been preached to man must be accepted, believed, held fast or kept firmly so as to fully benefit from God’s promise that “all these things will be given to you”. That is, unless man never really believes it in the first place.
God set the standard on how man can receive His promised material and spiritual blessings in a very simple way: obedience to Him. The problem is, many find obedience to God so difficult in a world so attractive and which calls on man with a loud, enticing voice filled with all the delights it can offer. That is why Apostle Paul vividly asserted that is hard to be a true Christian in these last days, thus: “You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. They will be hard headed and never give in to others; they will be constant liars and troublemakers and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough and cruel, and sneer at those who try to be good. They will betray their friends; they will be hot headed, puffed up with pride, and prefer good times to worshiping God. They will go to Church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that” (II Tim. 3:1-5, Living Bible).
How true are these things today? According to a report released last October 9, 2012 by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, more people are atheist, agnostic, or unaffiliated with religion than ever before. In fact, a third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32%).
Compound that spiritual crisis with those who are self-centered and lovers of money, or, in the words of the apostle “will love only themselves and their money.” Add up those who are loose in morals and conduct, puffed up with pride, and “prefer good times to worshiping God.” The sheer number of religions, churches, and pseudo-religious organizations today is deceptive and misleading, for, Apostle Paul declared: “They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear.”
No doubt, God decreed that all ungodly men will perish together with this earth and everything in it on Judgment Day (II Pet. 3:7, 10). On that Day, even mighty and strong men will cry bitterly. Those who engross themselves with accumulating “silver and gold” (money) on this earth will find lamentably that their wealth cannot deliver them from God’s wrath (Zeph. 1:14-15, 17-18).
What makes faithful membership in the Church Of Christ doubly important? First, members of the Church Of Christ were redeemed by the cleansing blood of Jesus, and as such, will be saved on Judgment Day. Second, even in this life, they are enjoined to ask God in prayers with thanksgiving for what they need, because the promise is: “Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. … And with all his abundant wealth through Christ Jesus, my God will supply all your needs” (Phil. 4:6, 19. Today’s English Version).
God promised to liberally supply every need of His people from His riches. The material worries and everyday concerns of man can be alleviated. He must not allow himself to be immobilized and be numbed by the feeling of despair and powerlessness. There is a biblical antidote to it. He must begin taking steps towards positive action: search for God’s kingdom or the Church Of Christ. Therein, complete obedience to God’s righteousness or gospel must be learned even through discipline and punishment from God (Heb. 12:5-10).Man may have been accustomed to many promises made and broken by his fellowmen. But with God it is different. His promises to His people stand. At the end of their perilous journey on earth, the obedient and faithful members of the Church Of Christ await “a new heaven and a new earth” where God “Will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will no more death, no more grief or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:1-4, TEV). All of that will be gone forever.