When Man Obeys…God Works – When Man Listens

When Man Obeys…God Works – When Man Listens by Cecil Rose for The Oxford Group

This is the paralysis that grips the world. It has also gripped the one body of men and women who should have the answer to paralysis-the Christian Church. So few people are left with any strong and impelling faith that their individual lives and actions have significance beyond themselves, and can avail in the bringing of a new and liberated world. The task of changing the world appears so gigantic and so remote that it daunts any attempt to make a personal contribution towards it. Unless we can demonstrate to men and women that there is a real way of remaking the world, and that they can become effective partners in it, they will remain the helpless spectators of the drift to destruction. The sheer weight of their inaction will quicken its pace.

What is the basis of the Christian hope of a new world? What part have I in its making?

The hope of a new world, which men and women of the pre-war generation entertained, was based either on a general faith in the inevitability of progress-a faith born in a partial understanding of the scientific doctrine of evolution; or on their confidence in the inventive genius and organizing capacity of man. Both foundations have given way.

The Christian hope of a new world has nothing in common with these exploded beliefs. The only way by which a new human society can come into being is by the action of God. As He created the world, so He can re-create it when men give Him the chance by their obedience.

When man obeys, God works.

We should lock up in an asylum a man who attempted to make a field of wheat by assembling thousands of stalks and leaves, planting them out laboriously, and sticking each grain on with gum. A waving field of corn is a miracle of life. It is the miracle which happens when man learns to do his part of simple obedience to the laws of growth, and ploughs the soil and scatters the seed. The difference is as great between man’s attempt to reorganize society and God’s recreation of it. Two years ago the people of Norway were facing anxious social and moral problems, and attempting to deal with them along the lines of legislation. The attempt was not proving notably successful. Some time previously a woman over seventy years old, faced, in China, the call of God to go and live in Geneva. She obeyed. As a result the President of the Norwegian Parliament, visiting Geneva, met the challenge to put life under the guidance of God. Later he invited thirty men and women to visit Norway, and bring the same message of God-guided living. In six months the principal papers of the country and many leaders of its life were bearing witness to a change in the mental outlook of its people. A general strike which had been pending did not take place. A remarkable change in the atmosphere of Parliament was noticed at the beginning of the next session. A celebrated journalist apologized to Denmark for his bitter article on the fisheries dispute, and opened the way to a new understanding between the two nations. The President of the Authors’ Club wrote a new kind of play, which brought dramatic art into the service of national regeneration. It drew very large audiences.

These are swift and partial glimpses at the rebirth of a nation. Politics, social life, morals, and culture can be reborn when the creative power of God is released by the obedience of one person.

Something happens. When man obeys, God works.

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