EXHAUSTING THE POTENTIALS of science, engineering, and technology, modernity has brought about amazing wonders to us. Extremely impressive inventions and discoveries of man today, particularly in the fields of medicine, transportation, and communication, were thought before as beyond human capacity, although long before the birth of Christ, an angel of God told prophet Daniel that at “the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Dan. 12:4, New King James Version). Agricultural, industrial, and business sectors have utilized technology to the fullest, in their aim of generating much profit.
Indeed, many, young and old, rich and poor, are trying with excitement to avail themselves of the conveniences and sophistication modernity offers. But on the other hand, it has been observed that modern societies are troubled with moral and spiritual decline especially on the part of the youth. Such decline is indicated by alarming trends such as rising violence; growing disrespect for authorities; increasing dishonesty; increasing peer cruelty; misuse and abuse of computers and the Internet; and surging self-destructive behavior like premature sexual activity, alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide. This worsening crisis could have been prevented had man paid attention to the voice that long, long before already provided mankind the guidelines on how they should conduct their lives to be at peace, to prosper, and to be happy. The same voice is forewarning the people of today on how difficult and dangerous shall the last days be that they must be strongly grounded spiritually.
THE LAST DAYS: TROUBLED TIMES
Through Apostle Paul, God gave His early warning about the moral and spiritual crisis the world in the last days would face: “Remember that there will be difficult times in the last days. People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and irreligious; they will be unkind, merciless, slanderers, violent, and fierce; they will hate the good; they will be treacherous, reckless, and swollen with pride; they will love pleasure rather than God” (II Tim. 3:1-4, Today’s English Version). As early as the first century of the Christian Era, Apostle Paul enumerated in his letter to Timothy the would-be attitudes of the people in the last days reflecting their moral and spiritual decline and instructed that such people must be avoided (II Tim. 3:5). Government, school, church, family, and other institutions have been burdened by the disturbing effects of this crisis beleaguering modern societies. In the eyes of many, these institutions are either failing or having a hard time to address properly these problems because, as statistics show, the conditions are getting worse.
Sociologists, as they look into the developments rapidly taking place in modern societies, have noted down the following characteristics: less religious orientation; emphasis on pleasures and material possession; tolerance for dysfunctional family forms and set-ups; less respect for elders; relativistic view of reality, life, and morals; legalizing of abortion; and indiscriminate use of technology, to name a few. They apparently perceive these characteristics as consequences of the sweeping changes ushered in by modernization. Eventually, these consequences themselves cause dilemmas or problems detrimentally affecting many. Certainly, many of society’s problems are of their own making – a vicious cycle or linear progression, as the case may be.
GOD’S PROTECTIVE AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES
Ever loving, God is the first to do something to protect man and his descendants from any moral and spiritual destruction. When He blessed the first man and the first woman, uniting them as one in marriage before they could live together as husband and wife and have children to establish a family, He was showing the sanctity of these institutions. The Holy Scriptures give this account: “So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them male and female, blessed them, and said, ‘Have many children…'” (Gen. 1:27-28, TEV). To show that what God instituted is sacred and should be regarded as such, our Lord Jesus Christ declared: “‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate'” (Matt. 19:4-6, New International Version).
God has given specific commandments that a husband and his wife should follow for the sake of their marriage and family. Sadly, many choose to violate these commandments, thus destroying the sanctity of these institutions and bringing about chain reactions of sufferings and miseries to those affected.
Likewise, the Almighty has given both parent their responsibilities to their children to ensure that they will be properly guided and protected. The Bible clearly states: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6, Ibid. ). Moreover, parents have been strictly instructed to take this as their major responsibility, that they should devote sufficient time to it: “Teach them to your children. Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working” (Deut. 6:7, TEV). Sad to say, many parents for whatever reasons, have neglected these responsibilities.
God’s unparalleled concern for mankind and infinite wisdom were manifested when He not only spoke His words (Heb. 1:1-2) but also commanded that His words be written (Jer. 30:2). Thus, the Holy Scriptures or the Bible (II Tim. 3:15) was given to guide man all throughout his life. Before the Christian Era, Moses spoke God’s words to the people of the Old Testament: “These are all the laws that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you. Obey them in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. As long as you live, you and your descendants are to honor the LORD your God and obey all his laws that I am giving you…” (Deut. 6:1-2, TEV).
In the Christian Era, Apostle Paul explicitly wrote: “You know how, when you were a small child, you were taught the Holy Scriptures; and it is these that make you wise to accept God’s salvation by trusting in Christ Jesus. The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us to do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone” (II Tim. 3:15-17, Living Bible). Since ancient times, God has set before mankind blessings and curses; has given His words, His voice, that if they have listened to it, they would have been blessed (Deut. 30:19-20). Sad to say, there are those, for whatever motive, who choose to ignore God’s words at their own disadvantage, as one of His prophets attested: “The people have defiled he earth by breaking God’s laws and by violating the covenant he made to last forever. So God has pronounced a curse on the earth. Its people are praying for what they have done…” (Isa.24:5-6, TEV).
PAUL’S WARNING AND CALL TO PARENTS
Parents should not let their secular concerns hinder them from fulfilling their God-given responsibility to train their children in the teachings of God. They must see to it that Christian values have been firmly instilled in the minds and hearts of their sons and daughters, emphasizing to them the greatest of all commandments, to love God above all (Matt. 22:36-37), to reverence for Him (Prov. 9:10; Job 28:28), and to obey Him (I John 5:3). They should no forget the warning of Apostle Paul who articulated to the Christians this message: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8, NIV). Apostle Paul, guided with the Holy Spirit and gifted with keen perception, was very much aware of the dangers of man’s own thinking, which is known today as man’s philosophy.
Those who choose Christ’s teachings or Christian values as their guide in life can easily understand what Apostle Paul was driving at in his admonition and its applicability today. They can immediately see the adverse impact on people and on their society of modernization as a dominant global social change that promotes certain philosophies – materialism, liberalism, and relativism, to mention a few – each one being labeled as a paradigm in the academe and subtly but immensely spread by media. For instance, increasingly popular nowadays is the view that each person is free to choose his own values even if they are against God’s will. the value of giving utmost importance to God’s will was asserted by Apostle Paul, saying: “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people. Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil day. … So you mus live like people who belong to the light, for it is the light that brings a rich harvest of every kind of goodness, righteousness, and truth. Try to learn what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the worthless things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light” (Eph. 5:15-16, 8-11, TEV).
Reinforcing what Apostle Paul taught, Apostle John wrote: “I write to you, young people, because you are strong; the word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the Evil One. Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father. Everything that belongs to the world – what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of – none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world. The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away; but those who do the will of God live forever” (I John 2:14-17, Ibid.). The message is clear – the words of God are the best weapon to defeat the Evil One; we should not love this world and anything that belongs to it, for they do not come from God, therefore are against His will.
ECHOING THE VOICE: A DIVINE MISSION
As the phenomenon of change sweepingly continues to take place in modern societies bringing about advantages and disadvantages of great magnitudes, the Church of Christ in these last days remain vigilant and cautiously discerning to ensure the safety of all its members around the world who have been continuously taught to always put their spiritual life above all secular matters. Through its Administration, under the leadership of the Executive Minister, the Church will not cease echoing the voice that has spoken since time immemorial the path that man should take to have a meaningful, peaceful, and fulfilling life for himself and for his loved ones.
The Church of Christ gladly shares God’s message to everyone, persuades all to listen to the voice that speaks of the great love of the only One who knows what is best for His creation. May He be merciful to those who have ignored His voice, that He give them another chance to find His grace. And in return, may they be humble enough to listen and obey His will.
Source: IGLESIA NI CRISTO, Pasugo, GOD’S MESSAGE, March 2010 Edition, Volume 62, Number 3, ISSN 0116-1636, p. 11-13, by CELERINO G. BACLAAN