“It is now time for us to ask the personal question put to Jesus Christ by Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road, ‘What shall I do Lord?’ or the similar question asked by the Philippian jailer, ’What must I do to be saved?’ Clearly we must do something. Christianity is no mere passive acquiescence in a series of propositions, however true. We may believe in the deity and the salvation of Christ, and acknowledge ourselves to be sinners in need of his salvation, but this does not make us Christians. We have to make a personal response to Jesus Christ, committing ourselves unreservedly to him as our Savior and Lord … At its simplest Christ’s call was “Follow me.” He asked men and women for their personal allegiance. He invited them to learn from him, to obey his words and to identify themselves with his cause … Now there can be no following without a previous forsaking. To follow Christ is to renounce all lesser loyalties … let me be more explicit about the forsaking which cannot be separated from the following of Jesus Christ. First, there must be a renunciation of sin. This, in a word, is repentance. It is the first part of Christian conversion. It can in no circumstances be bypassed. Repentance and faith belong together. We cannot follow Christ without forsaking sin … Repentance is a definite turn from every thought, word, deed, and habit which is known to be wrong … There can be no compromise here. There may be sins in our lives which we do not think we could ever renounce, but we must be willing to let them go as we cry to God for deliverance from them. If you are in doubt regarding what is right and what is wrong, do not be too greatly influenced by the customs and conventions of Christians you may know. Go by the clear teaching of the Bible and by the prompting of your conscience, and Christ will gradually lead you further along the path of righteousness. When he puts his finger on anything, give it up. It may be some association or recreation, some literature we read, or some attitude of pride, jealousy or resentment, or an unforgiving spirit. Jesus told his followers to pluck out their eye and cut off their hand or foot if it caused them to sin. We are not to obey this with dead literalism, of course, and mutilate our bodies. It is a figure of speech for dealing ruthlessly with the avenues along which temptation comes to us.”
― John R.W. Stott, Basic Christianity
Alienation was originally a Marxist word, and Karl Marx meant by it the alienation of the worker from the product of his labors. When what he produces is sold by the factory owner, he is alienated from the fruits of his work. But nowadays the word alienation has a much broader meaning of powerlessness. Whenever you feel politically or economically powerless, you are feeling alienated.
Jimmy Reid, the well-known Marxist counselor in Glasgow and leader of the Clydeside Ship Workers, when he was rector of Glasgow University, said, "Alienation is the cry of men who feel themselves to be the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control. Alienation is the frustration of ordinary people who are excluded from the processes of decision-making." Have we any influence? Have we any power? That's the question.
The word influence can sometimes be used for a self-centered thirst for power, like in Dale Carnegie's famous book How to Make Friends and Influence People. But it can also be used in an unselfish way of the desire of Christians who refuse to acquiesce to the status quo, who are determined to see things changed in society and long to have some influence for Jesus Christ. Are we powerless? Is the quest for social change hopeless before we begin? Or can Christians exert some influence for Jesus Christ?
There is a great deal of pessimism around today that grips and even paralyzes people. They wring their hands in a holy kind of dismay. Society is rotten to the core, they say. Everything is hopeless; there is no hope but the return of Jesus Christ. As Edward Norman, dean of Peter-house in Cambridge, once said in a radio interview, "People are rubbish."
But people are not rubbish. People ...1
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