Summary: As the world moves toward judgement, opposed to the Faith and righteousness, how shall the child of God live?

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” [1]

In the turmoil that plagued Europe following the First World War, William Butler Yeats penned a dark poem expressing pessimism about mankind. The poem contains these lines:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? [2]

The final lines of the modernistic poem have been controversial ever since they were published in 1919. The poem appears to suggest an evil presence (Spiritus Mundi) arising out of spiritual darkness to manifest itself against the righteous. Some have suggested that the poet’s lines presage the rebirth of opposition—even persecution—of those who follow the Son of God. Assuming this to be the case, our present situation reflects the darkness of which Yeats spoke.

It has never been easy to be a Christian. Despite the seemingly ubiquitous view advanced by modern pulpiteers that becoming a Christian will resolve every problem one might ever face, the Word of God cautions that following the Lamb will more likely entail significant personal costs. Stated bluntly, because one is a Christian, trouble will come. What is worse, as the age nears its terminus, the social condition will degenerate and problems will multiply. Opposition will increase and hatred toward the righteous will not only be tolerated, it will be de rigueur. Though the words likely apply specifically to the Tribulation period, we should not ignore their application in this present age.

Jesus warned, “Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” [MATTHEW 24:5-13].

No follower of the Master should become complacent about opposition and potential persecution. Despite the attempts by denizens of this darkened world to use the Faith for their own nefarious purposes, the people of God have never been loved by this present world. No Christian should ever become comfortable with the accolades and presumed praise of politicians and the powerful of this dying world.

The Master warned, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” [LUKE 6:26]. The Master also cautioned those who would follow Him, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause’” [JOHN 15:18-25].

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