|A Special Way to PEACE and JOY
There is a way to personal success and happiness. It is not mystical. It IS not complicated. And it really works! As a teenager who usually tried to act tough and unemotional, I was brought to tears one night in an unusual way. I shall never forget it.
It was a gorgeous summer evening in the American Midwest. I walked thoughtfully through the warm darkness, hearing the crickets chirp, looking at an almost full moon which illuminated with its gentle light the open spaces between the trees.
Harry's folks were gone, so I just came on around to the sliding glass door which opened out onto the patio. Suddenly, my musings were halted as I realized that the beautiful music I had been hearing so faintly before was coming from the piano just inside the sliding door, which was open.
There, his upturned face partially bathed by the moonlight which filtered through the trees and into the room, sat Harry at the piano bench. He was playing beautifully and most fittingly, in that quiet, luminescent scene, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. It was the most memorable rendition of that piece that I had ever heard. For Harry was completely blind.
Mistakes Exact Penalties. I watched for a moment and my eyes welled up with tears as Harry's unseeing eyes stared toward the very moon to whose beauty this piece had been dedicated. And I was forced to realize that blind Harry — the fellow we helped here and there around school, the boy whose alert and inquiring mind literally hungered for the chance I had to read, to see, to learn — was born blind for a reason. And common knowledge in the town had it that the reason was a " mistake" one of his parents made before his conception.
Whether we realize it or not, most such mistakes involve taking "liberties" with some kind of law. And so Harry was born blind. He was paying a penalty because someone else felt "free" to break a law — or, more likely, probably denied that such a law even existed.
But that law existed all right, and still does.
And the hundreds of times that Harry was "down" emotionally, the countless hours he brooded and suffered, the times he poured out his heart to me and others, the many, many times he got drunk to "forget" — all these bear ample testimony to those who are willing to understand that a law was broken and a terrible penalty was incurred.
Harry knows. He paid much of that penalty — along with millions of others of whom we shall later learn.
The Whole World Suffers. Not only are the individual sufferings of those like Harry increasing, but intelligent men everywhere know that they are living under the giant shadow of the H-bomb. Destruction could come any day, any time, any hour. And you and I would be no more.
Yes, we have more education and knowledge today. But that merely increases our capacity to kill and destroy one another.
Noted American columnist Sidney J. Harris summed it up in these words: "The problem is this: that intellectual knowledge is additive, while moral knowledge is not. What this means is that each generation knows more than the last, but acts no better....
"Moral knowledge does not seem to increase from generation to generation. All we learn from the past is to commit the same mistakes in greater volume and with more consequences."
With the advent of modern super-weapons, this scandalous lack of moral and spiritual values in modern knowledge assumes truly frightening proportions. At this point in human history, we cannot afford to keep making the same mistakes over and over. The result — as world leaders admit — may well be world suicide!
Yet in spite of having to live with the ever-growing threat of cosmocide for almost a generation, modern education, science, and philosophy have come up with virtually nothing to alleviate this dangerous situation. That is truly catastrophic.
Find the Cause. Is there a way that can bring an end to all war — an end to mounting crime, violence, broken homes, teenage pregnancies, babies born blind because of venereal diseases, mounting drug abuse and deep personal frustrations nearly everywhere?
It sounds like quite an order. But the genuine solution to these problems is as absolute as it is practical.
Many international, national, civic and private "do-good" organizations are busily trying to find solutions to the above problems. They are composed of sincere men and women. Often they do a certain amount of good — in a very limited way and for a limited time — within an overall framework which never changes. For they are only treating a few of the symptoms of war, crime, violence, broken homes, etc. They are not getting at the real cause of these tragic ills.
There is a cause for every effect. So to truly solve the above problems, we need to find their cause.
Far beneath the immediate provocations, there is a single basic cause or underlying reason for mankind's basic ills, as listed above. One way of putting it would be to say that "human nature" is the culprit. And that is true. But let's get specific. In what way does "human nature" cause war, crime and other problems? And is there an opposite way that would genuinely ensure peace and happiness?
A "Law of Liberty"? To most people, certainly including many in the field of religion, "law" has a foreboding, depressing connotation. Most businesses and organizations publish guidelines or some type of suggested behavioral code. And the government only uses the term "law" when a serious rule involving a penalty for disobedience is involved.
So, as a society, we tend to have this negative feeling about law. It should not be so. For the great Creator, the God of your Bible, has revealed a way of life based on law. It is a way that most professing Christians have heard practically nothing about.
Yet it is, in fact, the way that is going to solve the world's major problems within the normal life span of most of you reading this article!
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, was asked, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"
He answered: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matt. 22:36-40).
Notice! All other laws of God hang on or are outgrowths and magnifications of these two great spiritual principles. There are ten commandments in God's great spiritual law. The first four tell us how to love and honor God; the last six tell us how to love our neighbor.
Man needs these laws today more than ever before. Mankind is literally sick from its ignorance and neglect and consequent disobedience of these rules from our Creator.
Again, Jesus was asked: "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?"
He answered: "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt. 19:16-19).
Notice that Jesus, in answering, named some of the Ten Commandments — particularly, in this case, those telling man how to love his neighbor. For the religious leaders of that day had become overly strict with respect to the first four commandments. But they were weak and lax in regard to the last six.
Whenever Jesus spoke of the law of God — or "the commandments" He was always referring to that great spiritual law, the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, which were set forth at Mount Sinai. He came to "magnify" and expound this law to its full spiritual intent and glory (Isaiah 42:21).
The living Christ inspired James to write: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty" (James 2:10-12). There are points to the Ten Commandments. If you break even one, you have broken the whole law.
Note also that it is called the law of liberty. How can a law bring liberty? Let's understand.
How It Actually Works. For simplicity's sake, let's examine a few of the last six of the Ten Commandments. These tell us how to love our neighbor.
How could they bring liberty? We shall see.
Open you own Bible to Exodus 20, verse 12. "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
Magnifying this commandment, Jesus Christ inspired the apostle Paul to write: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1).
"Wow!" some parents might exclaim. "If our children really honored and obeyed us, what a more relaxed, peaceful, safe and happy life we could have as a family! Why, we could take them places without fighting and frustration; we could have pleasant family gatherings and meals at home. The kids would gladly help with the dishes, housework and chores. And, so very importantly, they would respect us and respond to our wishes concerning the kind of friends they run around with, the places they go, the things they do — even the way they dress, fix their hair and so on. Think of all the hours of worry and frustration we would be spared if our kids really honored and obeyed us."
Parents, does it sound too good to be true?
Don't kid yourself! Don't say it is "impossible" or "out of date." To some extent that commandment was obeyed in millions of homes in past generations all over the world. Even today, though they may break many other spiritual principles, millions still follow that principle to a great extent in homes in the Orient, Western Europe and other parts of the world. Not in all homes. Not perfectly either, of course.
But to the extent that this law is obeyed, parents have "rest," confidence and a fair amount of joy in their home and family, even though their standard of living may be low. And this in spite of the fact that most of those same parents have not taught and trained their children in the knowledge of God's law to anywhere near the extent they could and should have! Many of them, in fact, are simply following this principle of God's Word without fully realizing where it came from.
But just like the law of gravity, this law works. You can't "reason" around it, act like it does not exist or avoid it.
"Liberation" for Both Parents and Children. Obviously, if parents everywhere would teach their children to respect these principles, there would truly be a "Parents' Liberation" movement of unparalleled proportions!
Parents could then concentrate on teaching, training, loving and having delightful family activities with their children. They could quit worrying about teenage delinquency, juvenile dropouts, dope addiction, drunkenness, premarital sex and pregnancy and a veritable host of other youthful maladies. Millions of heartaches and billions of tears would be spared mothers and fathers everywhere.
But what about the young people? How would this law work for them? Would they feel oppressed and thwarted? Would their darling little personalities fail to blossom if not given complete and unlimited expression?
Remember the promise: "... that thy days may be long upon the land." How many millions of young people today are dying before their time, either figuratively or literally, because they have not been taught to honor their parents?
How many are taking drugs and are damaging or wrecking the highest physical creation here on earth, the human mind? How many are "serving" their lusts — whether in illicit sex, gambling, crime or a host of other related activities which, for the vast majority, will lead to unnecessary suffering and premature death?
Within a well-regulated, loving but disciplined family, these young people, too, could have the true "freedom" they yearn for and talk about, but which somehow always eludes their grasp. By honoring and obeying their parents, they need not end up as dope addicts, penitentiary inmates or young people with broken marriages, broken hearts and broken dreams. The "law of liberty" alone can guarantee all the blessings mankind yearns for!
An End to War? In Exodus 20:13, the Creator who gives us life commands: "Thou shalt not kill." This is the second command which shows us how to love our neighbor.
Again, Jesus Christ magnified the law and revealed its spiritual intent. He said: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt. 5:43-44).
First, then, the New Testament magnification of this command shows that we are not to kill anybody, any time, for any purpose. God gives life, and it is sacred.
God will fight our battles when we learn to believe in Him, obey Him and trust Him to be our shield and protector. But as humans, we are not to take human life under any circumstances.
Can you begin to imagine the liberty this suffering world would have if — suddenly and unexpectedly — everyone started obeying this law and you could count on it? Consider the fantastic liberty and blessings which would be automatically enjoyed by millions of young men — and all peoples — in every generation if there were no war. They would not have to interrupt their education and family life to go off and be taught to hate, fight and kill. Hundreds of thousands of them would live — instead of die — and be able to have normal families and children. Additional millions would not have to be deformed and crippled for the rest of their natural lives as a result of war-related injuries.
Also, these young men, their wives and sweethearts, and in many cases their future children, would not be deeply hurt by the ugly stain of war, which separates man from wife, child from father — sometimes for years at a time, sometimes permanently. And there are a host of other direct and indirect sufferings which have brought untold anguish to war-torn families from the beginning of time.
Thinking men deeply and fervently realize the whole war syndrome is almost like a civilized form of insanity. Yet all the reasonings, all the philosophies, all the leagues of nations and treaties of men have been unable to stop war. Only when mankind comes to know and deeply fear — reverently respect — the God of the Bible and His command against war will this continuing tragedy come to a final end.
Liberty? If the world could merely be "liberated" from this one tragedy — war — what an outflowing of blessings and what peace of mind there would be!
The Positive Side. Remember that Jesus' statement did not merely tell us to quit killing one another. He said: "Love your enemies ... do good to them that hate you." Often we forget to emphasize this aspect of God's perfect "law of liberty." Instead of merely thinking "Don't kill," let's begin to think "How can I help my neighbor live?" — that is, live a truly full, abundant and meaningful life.
What about your neighbor whose lawn mower won't work properly? If you have the ability to repair it, why not volunteer your services instead of smiling to yourself as you watch him fussing and fuming in despair?
What about the grumpy waitress who won't bring your water because she is frustrated and overworked? Could you be understanding and perhaps try to cheer her up? Do you realize that in our mixed-up society she may very well be a woman who has been deserted by her husband, is having to support two or three little children and is now halfway through her second job during a 16-hour workday in order to keep her fragmented family together?
Jesus said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). In following the positive expression of the sixth commandment, do you try to give life, love and happiness as you go along? If all of us did, think of the peace, the joy, the deep and lasting friendships and the fantastic liberty of freedom from frustration, fear, loneliness and apathy that we would all enjoy.
This is the ultimate liberty of which God speaks!
World Government Based on True Liberty. If you are willing to recognize the Ten Commandments for what they are — a fantastic expression of love and concern from the Creator of your mind and human emotions — you will achieve many of the liberties of which we write by simply obeying God's law. You will, of course, have to surrender your life to the true Jesus Christ of the Bible, who magnified these laws so wonderfully. You will be able to obey the intent and purpose of God's law only if Jesus Christ, through His Spirit, is living within you (John 15:5).
But in any case, it will not be too many years before a government will be established on this earth based upon these very laws. "But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:1-2).
Yes, this "law of liberty" will be the foundation for the rule of Jesus Christ in the soon-coming world tomorrow. Men will learn to serve, to help, and to give to one another as God's law instructs.
What a day it will be!
Among other things, men shall not "learn war any more" (Micah 4:3). The Creator will even remove the wild and vicious nature from all creatures at that time (Isaiah 11:6-9).
One striking prophecy of this soon-coming time is found in Isaiah 32:1-2: "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Jesus Christ the Messiah will rule all nations in righteousness and equity — and soon there will be world peace!
How Man Should Live With His Neighbors. Again notice verse 2: "And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest...." This expresses very poetically — if we make allowances for the English translation of 1611 — the love, the protectiveness and the kindness we can expect from fellow human beings in the world tomorrow.
In a big city, when my daughters walk down the street alone and hear footsteps behind them, they are often afraid. If they aren't, in many cases they should be. And so are millions of others in many of the cities of this world.
In the coming world tomorrow — guided' by the "law of liberty" — when my little ten-year-old daughter meets a man on a lonely street or out in the woods, he will be to her as a "hiding place" or a "covert" from the tempest. If she has fallen down or is lost, he will help her and, if need be, bring her home again.
In that day, our wives and daughters — and we ourselves — will have a feeling of safety, security and outgoing warmth toward our fellowman, a feeling that is rare indeed in the society in which we live today. The leading nation in the world will be a "land of unwalled villages... having neither bars nor gates" (Ezekiel 38:11). Just think, no more robbery, no more rape and, consequently, no more locks, bars, gates, security guards, policemen or defense establishments. Neighbors, as in Isaiah 32, will be willing to help and serve and protect others from accidents. What a different world that will be!
Then, and only then, will the whole world be truly liberated. It will be liberated not by screaming fanatics, but when all nations and all men learn there is a living God and start fashioning their lives according to the law of liberty revealed in His Word.
Meanwhile, you have your chance to do it now and become — through Christ in you — a leader in that soon-coming world.
Read our free vital booklet The Ten Commandments. Learn more about how to live the way all the world will be living soon.