VIDEO The Millennium – Utopian Impulse

Utopian Impulse

This summer America witnessed the dying spasm of Sixties’ utopianism, as visions of peace and love degenerated into mayhem and violence. I’m talking about Woodstock 1999, inspired by nostalgic memories of the flower children. By the end of the festival, teenagers faced off against the police, destroying property, looting, and setting fires — while chanting, “I won’t do what you tell me,” a line from a song played by one of the bands.

In a microcosm, Woodstock illustrates the complete failure of utopian visions of society — and their tendency to devolve into chaos and violence.

Utopianism has been among the most pervasive myths of our age. It lies at the heart of the great “isms” of the twentieth century, from National Socialism to Marxism. Utopianism denies the biblical doctrine of sin, defining the human dilemma not as moral rebellion against God but as ignorance, poverty, or oppression. The proposed solution, then, is simply better education or income redistribution or political reform.

The promise is that if we reform unjust social structures, natural human goodness will flourish. A utopian society can be created.

But how realistic is this utopian vision? Put bluntly, the entire twentieth century is a record of its failures. Everywhere utopian schemes have been put into practice — from Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union to Cambodia — they have produced tyranny and famine, secret police and hard labor camps.

Why? Because utopianism rests on the denial of a central Christian truth: the Fall. Christianity teaches that God created the world good, and that one of the good things He created was free will. But the first humans exercised their free will to reject God’s commands, which brought sin and evil into the world — resulting in suffering and death.

Modern thinkers often criticize the doctrine of sin as pessimistic and negative. But ironically, this doctrine is precisely what undergirds liberty. The American founders understood this clearly: They instituted a balance of power among three branches of government precisely on the grounds that due to the tendency to sin, power should not be concentrated in any one person or group. The founders built structures designed to limit the effects of sin, while maximizing liberty.

By contrast, utopian systems deny the reality of evil, and thus they build no safeguards against sin — which gives free rein to evil and tyranny.

Because of its biblical heritage, America has never had labor camps. Yet ever since the vaunted “idealism” of the Sixties, utopian ideas have moved into the mainstream: into education theory, psychology, government policy, and even the general culture — with the result that no one is responsible and everyone is a victim, entitled to government largesse.

Nowhere does the clash of worldviews have greater social impact than in the denial of sin and the consequent loss of moral responsibility. As Christians we need to learn to detect false ideas and to show why they are wrong. For if we fail to recognize prevailing worldviews, the worst that may happen is that we ourselves will be sucked into false thinking unawares — and lose our distinctive message.

And that would be disastrous, not only for ourselves but also for American society as a whole.

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Copyright (c) 1999 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. “BreakPoint with Chuck Colson” is a radio ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.


Proverbs 3:1-35 (NKJV) 
 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; 
 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. 


 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart,
 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man. 


 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 


 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. 


 Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10  So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine. 


11  My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction;
12  For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. 


13  Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding;
14  For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. 


15  She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
16  Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. 


17  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace.
18  She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her. 


19  The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens;
20  By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew. 


21  My son, let them not depart from your eyes– Keep sound wisdom and discretion;
22  So they will be life to your soul And grace to your neck. 


23  Then you will walk safely in your way, And your foot will not stumble.
24  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. 


25  Do not be afraid of sudden terror, Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;
26  For the LORD will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught. 


27  Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
28  Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you. 


29  Do not devise evil against your neighbor, For he dwells by you for safety’s sake.
30  Do not strive with a man without cause, If he has done you no harm. 


31  Do not envy the oppressor, And choose none of his ways;
32  For the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD, But His secret counsel is with the upright. 


33  The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the home of the just.
34  Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble. 


35  The wise shall inherit glory, But shame shall be the legacy of fools.


The Millennium – David Jeremiah

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By faith [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. Hebrews 11:27

 

Working in the corporate world allowed me to interact with many talented and levelheaded people. However, one project led by an out-of-town supervisor was an exception. Regardless of our team’s progress, this manager harshly criticized our work and demanded more effort during each weekly status phone call. These run-ins left me discouraged and fearful. At times, I wanted to quit.

It’s possible that Moses felt like quitting when he encountered Pharaoh during the plague of darkness. God had hurled eight other epic disasters at Egypt, and Pharaoh finally exploded, “[Moses,] get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die” (Exodus 10:28).

Despite this threat, Moses eventually was used by God to free the Israelites from Pharaoh’s control. “[By faith] Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27 nlt). Moses overcame Pharaoh by believing that God would keep His promise of deliverance (Exodus 3:17).

Today, we can rely on the promise that God is with us in every situation, supporting us through His Holy Spirit. He helps us resist the pressure of intimidation and wrong responses to it by granting us supernatural power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). The Spirit provides the courage we need to keep going and to follow God’s leading in our lives.

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Today’s Reflection

What types of situations upset you? How can you rely on

Dealing With Debt

Romans 13:1-8

Citizens have the responsibility to submit to governmental authority. Obeying the laws of the land that do not contradict scriptural commands is an essential part of honoring the Lord. Verse 7 of today’s passage says, “Render to all what is due them.” Just as we are obligated to pay our taxes, we’re also to repay all of our debts (Rom. 13:8).

The Lord expects anyone who borrows money to be respectful of his neighbor and diligently repay him. By withholding what is rightfully due, we are guilty of stealing from the lender, which can influence our testimony for Christ. Since defaulting on a loan is serious and can ruin relationships, we need to responsibly get out of debt and stay out.

Perhaps this is hitting close to home. As daunting as the task of debt reduction may seem, you are not alone. God wants you to be financially free, and He will show you the way. However, it’s usually not a fast fix but a slow and steady approach that will prepare you to avoid future debt. Confess that you haven’t been a good steward of your resources, commit to making some sacrificial changes, and consistently work toward your goal. But above all else, rely on the Lord, and He will be faithful.

Does your mountain of debt seem bigger to you than your almighty heavenly Father? If so, your focus is on your own inabilities instead of the Lord’s faithfulness. For those who turn to God in genuine repentance and surrender, He will supply the needed resources as well as the persistence to repay what is owed.

Provision of God

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Psalm 136 gives three key examples of God’s sovereign provision. He protects and shelters during our times in the “wilderness.” He makes possible victories over great “enemies.” And he gives “food to all flesh.” God’s detailed provision and the many examples thereof in the Scriptures are inexhaustible. Yet, in these three areas, we may find hope for any situation “in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Our “wanderings” are compared to hard-hearted Israel (1 Corinthians 10) and the many physical and spiritual sins of a people in rebellion to God’s control in their lives. Jesus warned that the “cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things” would “choke the word” and make us unfruitful (Mark 4:19). Yet, even though we may be like the younger son in the story of the prodigal (Luke 15:11-32) and would waste our “substance in riotous living,” God was still the Provider of the inheritance that was wasted. God was still waiting for the son to “come to himself” and return home. God still has compassion, and He forgives and restores to fellowship all who come home.

And were it not for the promises of deliverance from our enemies that are so replete throughout the Scriptures, were it not for the hope that we would see deliverance “in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13), and were it not for the confident knowledge that “evildoers shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:9), we would be in constant fear and torment. God promises to bring us victory! We are told that He will fight for us, and that we are not left to our own devices! Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. . . . and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20). HMM III

 

God Is Not a Porter

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

—Isaiah 40:12

We must be concerned with the person and character of God, not the promises. Through promises we learn what God has willed to us, we learn what we may claim as our heritage, we learn how we should pray. But faith itself must rest on the character of God.

Is this difficult to see? Why are we not stressing this in our evangelical circles? Why are we afraid to declare that people in our churches must come to know God Himself? Why do we not tell them that they must get beyond the point of making God a lifeboat for their rescue or a ladder to get them out of a burning building? How can we help our people get over the idea that God exists just to help run their businesses or fly their airplanes?

God is not a railway porter who carries your suitcase and serves you. God is God. He made heaven and earth. He holds the world in His hand. He measures the dust of the earth in the balance. He spreads the sky out like a mantle. He is the great God Almighty. He is not your servant. He is your Father, and you are His child. He sits in heaven, and you are on the earth.   FBR044-045

God, I fall on my face before You in worship today. Forgive me for those times I have treated You as though You were my servant. I am Your servant, Lord, and I humbly bow before You today. Amen.

 

Let all that you do be done in love

Let all that ye do be done in love.—1 Corinthians 16:14 (R.V.)

 

If thou art blessed,

Then let the sunshine of thy gladness rest

On the dark edges of each cloud that lies

Black in thy brother’s skies.

If thou art sad,

Still be thou in thy brother’s gladness glad.

Anna E. Hamilton.

 

What can be more unkind than to communicate our low spirits to others, to go about the world like demons, poisoning the fountains of joy? Have I more light because I have managed to involve those I love in the same gloom as myself? Is it not pleasant to see the sun shining on the mountains, even though we have none of it down in our valley? Oh, the littleness and the meanness of that sickly appetite for sympathy, which will not let us keep our sorrows to ourselves! Let us hide our pains and sorrows. But, while we hide them, let them also be spurs within us to urge us on to all manner of overflowing kindness and sunny humor to those around us. When the very darkness within us creates a sunshine around us, then has the spirit of Jesus taken possession of our souls.

Frederick Wm. Faber.

 

She now rarely lost the sacred opportunity of giving pleasure.

Sarah W. Stephen.

 

God the Best Sanctuary

“Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.” Ezek. 11:16

Banished from the public means of grace, we are not removed from the grace of the means. The Lord who places His people where they feel as exiles will Himself be with them, and be to them all that they could have had at home, in the place of their solemn assemblies. Take this to yourselves, O ye who are called to wander!

God is to His people a place of refuge. They find sanctuary with Him from every adversary. He is their place of worship too. He is with them as with Jacob when he slept in the open field, and rising, said, “Surely God was in this place.” To them also He will be a sanctuary of quiet, like the Holy of Holies, which was the noiseless abode of the Eternal. They shall be quiet from fear of evil.

God Himself, in Christ Jesus, is the sanctuary of mercy. The ark of the covenant is the Lord Jesus, and Aaron’s rod, the pot of manna, the tables of the law, all are in Christ our sanctuary. In God we find the shrine of holiness and of communion. What more do we need? O Lord, fulfill this promise and be ever to us as a little sanctuary!