Christianity: An Asset or a Liability, Which?
Talking with a man a few days ago who was criticizing Christians or professing Christians and especially the church of Christ rather severely, I asked him this question: “Do you think that Christianity is an asset or a liability to a nation or to a city?”
“What do you mean?”
I replied, “Do you think that the city of Chicago would be a better city to live in if there were no Christians here? Would you like to live here if all the churches were destroyed? Would this great country America be a better land if all Christians could be banished or would die off and not one be left?”
“Well,” he said, “I would not like to say that.”
We ought to face this proposition and settle it in our own minds.
Jesus likened Christians to salt that was preventing a carcass from corrupting. In other words, Christians are keeping the world from a state of absolute lawlessness. Even in the day of the antediluvians, Noah held back the flood judgment for a hundred and twenty years, and Lot kept the fire and brimstone from Sodom and Gomorrah. Jehovah said that the judgment could not fall upon those cities until Lot had made his escape. Now if Christianity is a barrier to judgment, and is preventing lawlessness and corruption, then we must conclude that it is an asset to the nation, if not our greatest asset. In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians he declares that while iniquity is now working in the world there is coming a full and complete manifestation of the “wicked one,” but at present that full manifestation is hindered and the power that is hindering is the Holy Spirit in the godly people living upon this earth. Chicago’s greatest asset is the true, praying people living within its limits.
The man or woman who is living the Christian life and standing for the truths He taught is making a large contribution to the welfare of society here and now. What is Christianity? Paul tells us that it is “Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.” Now anything that will bring more righteousness, more peace and more joy into the community and to the hearts of the people must be reckoned among earth’s greatest blessings.
Christianity stands first and foremost for Righteousness—that is, right living here and now. Take a man that has been dishonest. He will not pay his debts. He isn’t square in his dealings with his neighbors. In fact, he is crooked. But he comes to Jesus Christ. The great change takes place. Immediately he will concern himself about paying his debts, and he will pay them. He will start to do business on the square, and only to the extent that he deals honestly and fairly with his fellows can he be considered a Christian. I knew a man who drank heavily, became demoralized as a consequence, ran in debt for groceries, rent, and fuel wherever he could get a bit of credit, and then avoided the obligations by moving from one locality to another, and sometimes from one town to another. One night he came to Jesus while intoxicated. His was a genuine case of conversion. “Old things passed away and all things became new.” He was a good mechanic. He found a position that same week. The manager of the establishment for which he worked, who was not a believer, said to me some three years later, “Jim Blank has real religion. To my knowledge he has paid off over $400 of bad debts for groceries, rent, etc.” The very first pay he had the treasurer of that establishment deducted so much from his envelope and sent it to one of his creditors, each week to a different one, and continued to observe this principle until he had canceled every dollar that he owed. This was a testimony to those who knew him and especially to his creditors that his religion was vital and practical. As Paul says, “It is RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
The Peace of God
It is also Peace. Not only does Jesus give peace to those who seek Him (and that He most surely does) but He also gives Grace that will enable us to “live peaceably with all men.” If Christ were really ruling this world we might have that which we so much need—Peace—covering the earth as the waters cover the sea. He is the “Prince of Peace,” and the world is passing through the seas of trouble all because they “will not have this man to reign over them.”
Fullness of Joy
Then it is also Joy. We sometimes act as if Jesus would case a chill on our joy if He were to be received into our homes and lives. But this is surely the delusion of the Devil. “In His presence there is fullness of joy.” “These things speak I unto you that my joy might remain in you and that YOUR joy might be full,” said the Master in that wonderful address which He delivered just before His crucifixion. And John, at a much later date, writing of our fellowship with Jesus, says, “These things write I unto you that your joy might be full.” “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Our circumstances may not be such as we can rejoice in, but the source of the Christian’s joy is just a little bit higher than earthly conditions and circumstances. It is the joy of the Lord. We can “Joy in God through the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now these are common, every-day terms. Any ordinary man can appreciate them. And Christianity challenges you to test it. You may experience for yourself that these things are true. It was James who said, “He that converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” Not only does He get a man ready to die and go to live with God through all eternity, but he “covers a multitude of sins.” In other words, when the sinner is converted evil forces are checked and forces for good are put in motion. The woman who met Christ at the well was notoriously bad. She lived a shameless, immoral life, and undoubtedly was considered a pest and a menace to the community in which she lived. But on receiving the vision of the Christ she became a blessing and a benediction, for immediately she brought her neighbors, friends and enemies to the Saviour, and we read that they believed on Him not only because of the words He spake but “because of the woman.”