Western civilisation finds its heritage among Judeo-Christian values aligned with the Bible. Any attempt to understand how our culture works today will undoubtedly revolve around questions of faith whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
Human nature is bound by our material needs and our spiritual desires. It is unescapable during our earthly time that the social ladders of power not limited to money, status, or wealth play towards our heart’s desires. But even stronger is a pull of a deeper yearning, one that transcends our carnal nature. The intangible yet very real question of where we come from and where we are going speak towards our spiritual self as well.
Faith is the essence of our belief and our society, no matter what religion or worldview one follows. Every step that we take, every decision that we make, and every word that is uttered is a determination from our faith. The practice of good faith deeds establishes trust and honour, whereas bad faith corrodes our societal systems.
Breakdown in trust among our fellow man is attributed nevertheless to the splintering of society that yearns for a revival in every and any way they see fit, and dare place their faith in, no matter its consequences.
Learning from those before us
When we look at the life of John Newton, we often know him as the author of the grand old hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, but that perhaps is not his most notable personal achievement. One should not look past Newton’s faith story, a true tale of a man putting his faith in God and as a result having his faith inspire new faith in other generations years and years later.
As the Western world once again grapples with the challenges of racial injustice, prejudice, and challenges of equality, we ought to turn to the faith of one of the greatest civil rights leaders in recent history. Dr Martin Luther King Junior often forgotten as a reverend, led the way in putting his faith at the forefront of social justice campaigns to bring forth a better world.
King knew that holding firm to the roots of his faith would be critical to surviving the trials of testing times. His famous ‘I have a Dream’ speech incudes the awe-inspiring line of aspiration that “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together”.
When we fail to grasp onto the true God, we turn to ideologies that strive for power and prestige whether through the vote or at the end of a barrel. A godless society does not necessarily mean a faithless place, but rather man’s faith has been captured by the ways of this world in the pursuit of our carnal passions for material success.
Whether one decides to put faith for the revival of a better world in capitalism, communism, socialism, or anything in-between, or otherwise, the pursuit of power demonstrates the misplaced positioning of ourselves on a faulty pedal stool. When we decide to make ourselves a god, instead of living under God’s rule by putting our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, no good can arise from faith in anything else.
Even though it may appear that faithlessness is on the rise, that perhaps could be further from the truth. Faith in God as the true saviour and redeemer of the world may be in decline, but faith is not. Faith does not simply evaporate but it instead is placed and replaced by conflicting worldviews.
The pursuit of social justice without faith in God seeks to introduce a new environment of positive moral obligations and goodness. But if we were genuinely true to ourselves, we know that no one can be good with God. Every generation sees new leaders trying to change the rules to suit themselves for what they deem to be the necessary goodness of the time.
However, the replacement of Judeo-Christian foundations in our Western civilisation is at the peril of all who strive to live their life their own way—without God. Those who hold firm to the Gospel teaching of Jesus Christ as the only means to life everlasting will be able to weather the gathering storm. But all those who place their faith in an earthly worldview or political ideology will find no respite.
As we are all people of faith, created by God and equal under God, there is nothing that we can humanely do ourselves, believe or change that will make us or this world more perfect. No promise or temptation for us to put our faith in can transform or revive this fledging society.
Criticisms of faith and faith adherents in fact are the prime demonstration of faith in action, as it is a demand for faith to be placed in their worldview. When one tries to elevate themselves and be like the people of Babel to ‘play God’, what awaits is only a sharper downfall.
Faith in anything else apart from God whose Son is Jesus Christ and is alive and living in this world through the Holy Spirit is nothing short of pride and blasphemy against God. Proverbs chapter 13 verse 10 warns us that “where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice”.
As our culture decides what path it chooses to take moving forward, there is not a single ideology or worldview that will survive in the long run if it chooses to replace faith in God. If we come to a place where we replace God with government or put our faith into the reform of systemic norms as newfound salvation, we bind ourselves to an endless cycle of obsession with fruitless endeavours for our eternal spiritual lives.
Putting faith into political ideals, earthly worldviews, or anything else apart from God to ensure perfection of the world is like following the sheep as described in Matthew chapter 7 verse 15. Such sheep are in fact “ravenous wolves” that come to eat, kill, and destroy the soul. We must not allow our carnal selfish ambitions being the pursuit of power to overcome us and lead us to put our faith in false promises of a revival.
Instead of trying to revolutionise or change the Judeo-Christian values that stand as the foundations of our society, one ought to be mindful of the subtle ways that earthly worldviews are disseminating to draw our faith away from God. False senses of security are found in wealth and security or the need to redistribute material possessions in order to create a more equal world. It is time that we bring ourselves to a civilisation truly under God to allow him to shape our faith instead of us trying to put our faith in the next popular claim of being God.
This article was first published at Christian Today Australia on Monday 3 May 2021.