Pacem in Terris
The papal encyclical, Pacem in Terris, or "Peace on Earth" is but a faint echo of the pronouncement of the angel at the birth of our Lord. The celestial visitor recognized that there was an indissoluble link between the birth of the Prince of Peace and the prospects of peace on earth. Of course, the Prince of Peace was crucified, and with Him died all prospects of peace in our time. This fact alone may be productive of an inertia-producing attitude of fatalism. To be sure, problems between nations, races, and peoples constitute one giant imponderable. Is this not enough to cause weak hearts to fail for fear? And yet the Bible speaks positively to this chaotic age. His Word, like a beacon light, illumines the darkness.
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matt. 5:9). "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace" (Isa. 52:7). In short, emergency conditions are a challenge to action. Our times are too dangerous for faint hearts and sinking spirits. It has been said, "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."
While it is true that the problems of man are insoluble, it is equally true that courageous hearts may find short-term solutions that will make life livable and bearable for the little time we are here. The Christian's hope for a better world is no excuse for failure to better this one. Nowhere is this principle illustrated more clearly than in the example of our Lord Himself. When He appeared on earth the problems of man were already impossible of human solution, but you would not have known it by His day-to-day round of unselfish service. He fought disease as if it could be totally eradicated. He challenged sin with the zeal of an optimist. He rebuked racial prejudice by associating with the despised and fellowshiping with the rejected. He attacked hunger by feeding empty stomachs. He combated religious formalism by teaching warmth, vitality, and joy as being the true spirit of Christianity. Yes, it is true that there is too much darkness in the world for us to dispel completely, but he is less than Christian who does not light a torch.
Pacem in Terris? Non nunc sed tardius!
E. E. C.
The preacher often faces experiences that cause trembling of soul and shaking of the knees. It may be an intern's first funeral, opening night for the evangelist, a big wedding, a camp meeting speaking appointment, or some other big event. Whatever it is, there is only one remedy for shaking knees—that is to kneel on them so constantly and consistently that God can steady them.
Much of the fear experienced by the preacher comes from lack of preparation. And the greatest lack is the lack of prayer. How much time do we really spend with God on our knees? How many times a day are our hearts riveted on God's power? When the ministry begins to linger on its knees at the cross of Christ, we will see more than pulpit Pablum served to our congregations. The gospel will no longer appear as a few flickering sparks scattered here and there, but as a brilliant bonfire that will light the world.
Dwight L. Moody said, "Every great movement can be traced to one kneeling figure." The spineless are the prayerless. The spiritual arthritis that grips the church can be traced to knees that infrequently touch the floor, or never at all. True progress, whether for individual or organization, is made on bended knee.
J. R. S.
From Edward DeWitt Jones comes the quote, "The preacher for today must have the heart of a lion, the skin of a hippopotamus, the agility of a greyhound, the patience of a donkey, the wisdom of an elephant, the industry of an ant, and as many lives as a cat."
This would suggest that the ministry of the Word is a hazardous business, as indeed it is. But then, saving man was hazardous business from the time that the Son of God was born in Bethlehem until His crucifixion at Calvary. Violence stalked His trail from the cradle to the grave. From Herod's decree that all children from two years old and under be put to death by the sword, until Pilate washed his hands thirty-one years later, the life of our Lord was one of constant peril. Nor were His disciples exempt from the threat of violence, and many of them died bloody deaths. The apostle John, according to tradition, was put into a boiling cauldron of oil, and surviving this, was exiled to Patmos. James was beheaded. Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down. Torture and the stake have plagued God's servants since the establishment of the New Testament church and persecution has stalked their heels in every generation. Is it not reasonable that in our own day the ugly specter of persecution should rear its head? And should not God's ministers be prepared to bear their own cross in their own time? We should and must die daily. To such men, physical death is anticlimactic.