Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (3)
The sun had set and it was that time of evening when I could relax with a good book. As I picked up C.S. Lewis’, The Problem of Pain, it randomly opened, and one statement immediately caught my attention.
“From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the centre is opened to it. This sin is committed daily by young children and ignorant peasants as well as by sophisticated persons, by solitaries no less than by those who live in society: it is the fall in every individual life, and in each day of each individual life, the basic sin behind all particular sins: at this very moment you and I are either committing it, or about to commit it, or repenting it.”
I believe western society has lost this battle utterly and completely. Without realizing what we have done, we have crowned ‘self’ as a substitute for God. For instance …
- We are under the illusion that God is so completely irrelevant that we do not take His existence seriously, or what that might entail.
- Our decisions and actions as a society reveal our assumption that we are superior to God – references to God have been intentionally removed from public life, governments, and the courts.
- We are well on our way to becoming the most self-centered society in human history. Our focus is now on the ‘rights’ we have bestowed upon ourselves. Like spoiled children, we are now more occupied with making decisions according to what we want, instead of what we ought to do … … and we actually think we are being progressive in doing so.
- We have become hostile to God’s moral law, choosing to make up our own morality that can be adjusted to give us whatever we want, especially when it comes to sex.
- Some, who like the idea of a little spirituality in their life, will accept a god, but only on their terms, and only if the god meets with their approval.
What will be the consequences for our civilization?
When our society started to turn away from God, we didn’t understand that we were turning away from the one who is the origin of ‘every good thing given, and every perfect gift’.(1) He is the source of life and all that is good, including beauty, honour and love; turning away from God entails turning away from the foundation of everything that is good. Nonetheless, we insist on doing this, and are unthinkingly blind to the long term consequences. As a result, the death of our civilization is inevitable. In the meantime, it is growing uglier each year as we become increasingly obsessed with ourselves and our own personal rights. Real love is dying, and is being replaced with an animalistic obsession with sex. As God says, ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.’(2)
So what is the solution?
I will quote C.S. Lewis again, (who had such a way with words!) …
“Would you think I was joking if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sensible thing to do? … We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”(MC, Book I, Chapter 5)
I believe our civilization is going down the wrong road and must turn back in order to make true, legitimate progress. We need to realize that since we are not God, we cannot be trusted to set our own direction for humanity by making up our own moral laws and rights – anymore than a glutton can be trusted to guard the pastries. We need to utterly abandon our imaginary, self-bestowed ‘rights’ and surrender ourselves into the hands of God, who is our creator and the origin of every good and perfect gift. Since crowning ourselves as gods leads to death, Jesus’ words here are particularly applicable … ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to God but through Me.’ Think of yourself as a branch being re-attached to the life-giving trunk.
It is only after one places oneself in the hands of God, through faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal life, that a person can began to experience exhilarating beauty, love, honour, and so many other wonderful things that come solely from God. Our civilization is less than two generations from internal, moral collapse. Even as society progresses down this road to death, you do not have to stay on board. Seriously consider doing an ‘about-turn’. Walk back to the right road – take that instead.
- James 1:17
- Proverbs 14:12
- Jeremiah 6:16