IF NATIONAL OR international crises are cause for alarm, it appears that we will remain in an alarmed state. If it is not Asia it’s the Mideast. If it’s not a hijack in the air it’s a political kidnapping on the ground. Closer to home, taxes and inflation spiral and the cost-of-living threatens national economic disaster.
The first impulse is to “get away” from it all. Like David, we want to take wings into a desert place (Psalm 55:5,6). Or, borrowing words from the poet Bryant, we would “take the wings of morning” and “lose ourselves in the continuous woods.” Vacations are fine from time to time. Jesus occasionally went away for refreshing privacy and spiritual renewal. But we can’t Eve on vacation.
When the Lord ascended a mountain one day and was glorified in advance of His death (probably to give strength to His disciples), Peter wanted to build shelters and stay there. “Why go down into the world?” he reasoned. “Especially in view of this talk about dying!” But Jesus stopped Peter, and they went down and Jesus died. Three days later He rose again — and in that miracle He gave a new view of life to dying men everywhere.
Jesus did not learn to live with the world. He OVERCAME it. This is part of our problem. We learn to live with the world when God offers us the opportunity in Christ to overcome it. Like the apostles who hid behind closed doors, we sometimes use our church-buildings as escape routes and hiding-places. The salt is in the box, all right, and the leaven is on the shelf. But the bread is flat and the food is spoiling. Escapism is not the answer to the problems we face. Because Jesus knew God, He could use the world for God’s glory and at the same time not become a part of it. So must we. Our citizenship is in heaven. We live here momentarily. This world has problems. But we know of another world where there will be none. This world says such talk is crazy — they told Jesus that, too. Thinking about heaven can itself become a form of escapism, if all we do is sit tight and think about it. But if we really believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, that Judgment is coming, and that Christ is the answer to all the basic problems, we will not just sit and think. Faith in God’s future gives strength for victorious living now. This kind of faith will enable us to conquer the world — not just learn to live with it.