The Enterprise of Making a Better World
[This brief article was written by Pastor Orson P. Jones over 80 years ago and is reproduced from the August 26, 1930 issue of Faith and Fellowship.]
This world needs to be made better. This fact makes a great impression upon youth. Wars are useless; many diseases are preventable; drunkeness and gambling are indefensible; unemployment is unprofitable to the community; ox-carts and wooden plows are a drag upon progress; illiteracy yields readily to treatment. It seems as though something ought to be done about such things. Because sin is so irrational and foolish, we are apt to conclude that a little propaganda, a little patience and a little love will cure any of these ills. World betterment makes a strong appeal to the thoughtless. Christian people have been led astray on this idea in past ages and in the present.
We wish that those who would make world betterment a Christian enterprise would point out where Jesus clearly attempted to do away with war or held out any hope of eliminating war by human methods. We recommend a reading of Matthew 24. Did our Lord direct His disciples to inaugurate campaigns for a better world? Many would make our churches lighthouses and propaganda centers for world betterment. But what does our Bible say?
The World Hates Jesus Christ
Some have a mistaken idea that all men would believe in Jesus if given a proper opportunity to know about Him. This is far from the truth. The brethren of Jesus, who grew up in the same home, knew Him as men of today cannot know Him, yet they did not believe in Him. To these unbelieving brethren Jesus said, "The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil" (John 7:7). If the world hates Jesus, it is going to be hard work to make it better. The world will not tolerate neutrality, nor will God. "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). Where friendship lines are drawn so closely and definitely, we must cast in our lot with one or the other.
The World Hates the Servants of Christ
It is impossible to be true to Christ and at the same time to be loved by the world. There will always be gamblers who think that they can break the bank at Monte Carlo; likewise, there will also be Christians who think they can serve Christ and retain the friendship of the world. Impossible! Jesus carefully instructed His disciples on this point: "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19).
Some Christians cherish the delusion that they can be more tactful, diplomatic and attractive than their Lord. "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). Those servants of Christ who have set for themselves the task of making a better world may sit down and calculate their chances for success. Jesus said, "If they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also" (John 15:19-20).
The World Has Its Own Teachers
The world has its own plans for betterment, its own methods of law enforcement, its own schemes for peace, and its own ideas of religion. The world has its own definition of happiness and its own methods of attaining it. The world is not calling for advice from narrow minded believers in Christ. Japan is satisfied with Shintoism. India is proud of her 33 million gods. America is satisfied with money and a smattering of every brand of religion on earth. The world honors a Jesus Christ of its own imaginings; he is a back-slapping service club Christ, a foolish fellow who would back every hair-brained reform ever proposed, a "yes" man who would agree with everybody, an optimist with golden-hued spectacles, a lover of modern youth, a communist, a friend of wealth, a carpenter and an intellectual highbrow. But the Christ who said with dignity, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6) is a stranger to the world. The world is too busy listening to its own prophets to read the Bible. And so we read: "Many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1); "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them" (1 John 4:5).
If the world hates Jesus Christ, hates His servants, refuses to keep the sayings of Jesus or the sayings of His servants; if the world has its own prophets and hears them; then the world will have to make itself better. Christians are eliminated from the enterprise no matter how much they might pity and desire to help. But there are weightier factors than these.
The World Has No Holy Spirit
Few believers realize how much they owe to the Holy Spirit. We hear too many tributes to mothers, too many tributes to books, too many tributes to meetings—that should have been tributes to the Holy Spirit. Our fellowship with the Holy Spirit is not what it ought to be; therefore, Truth does not flourish in our midst, and errors abound. But think of the world!
"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him" (John 14:16-17). Do you wonder that temples of Spiritualism, of Christian Science, of Theosophy, of Russellism, of New Thought and temples of pleasure jostle each other in our great cities? We cannot teach truth to a world that has not received the Spirit of Truth.
The World Has No Intercessor
Believers have a Great High Priest in the heavens who "ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25). We wonder if our readers have ever paused to consider the unutterable sadness of a world without an intercessor. Come war! Come famine! Come pestilence! The heavens are brass! No one pleads before the throne of God! Jesus refused to pray for the world. "I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me" (John 17:9), Jesus prayed to the Father.
Reader, carry those words with you: "I pray not for the world." Over and over again, repeat it: "I pray not for the world." It will help you realize what it means to be without hope and without God in the world.
It is sad to be without Christ, to face the judgment without a Savior. But it is sadder still to dwell beyond the reach of prayer, where no one on earth or in heaven can intercede for you. Every man out of Christ is in that position. The experience of passing from that awful condition is described by the words, "We know that we have passed from death unto life" (1 John 3:14). How can we help the world to be better, a world for which Jesus Christ could not pray?