When I think about past and present civilizations, it seems as though
God says to nations, “Ok, I’ve let you become rich and comfortable. Now
will you take that leap of faith and leave your petty selfishness and
become magnanimous towards others as I (God) have been toward you? Try
My way; try this experiment. It has rarely been whole-heartedly tried
before. See what can happen when you really put Me to the test and
behave in keeping with a truly regenerate heart and mind.”
But over and over again since the beginning of history, humankind
hesitates to take that giant leap forward to free themselves once and
for all by really believing God. Instead they become prideful and, at
the same time, paranoid and fearful of losing what God has allowed them
to achieve. Publicly they give God lip service, ritualizing forms of
“worship.” Their leaders fool the masses (who usually participate in
their own downfall) and become increasingly oppressive to their own
people and to others. This has been true even with “God’s chosen people”
as described in the Bible.
Governments may start out with good intentions, but eventually become
corrupted. That is the beginning of their woes which lead to the end of
their domination or place in the world.
Over the long haul, no large group of people truly has ever taken God
at His word. Self-serving leaders take charge and lead people astray,
manipulating them with fear tactics. And when the masses become fearful
of the unknown or of change, they cling even more strongly to
“tradition” for emotional security. They also look around for an
acceptable target to abuse and scapegoat. Traditions that are of the
“world,” and opposed to the teachings of Christ, may very well be
described as “anti-Christ.” Such traditions can easily become idols. And
let’s not forget how “drastic” the break with tradition of the early
Christians must have seemed in the eyes of their families and neighbors.
It is easy to see why the Bible says that the human heart is evil
(Genesis 6:5-7 and Genesis 8:21):
5. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man [humankind] was
great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart
was only evil continually.
6. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He
was grieved in His heart.
7. And the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from
the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to
birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them."
21 …and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the
ground on account of man, for the intent of man's [humankind’s] heart
is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living
thing, as I have done.
New American Standard Bible
People have a choice. As Christians are fond of saying, God did not
make us as robots; He gave us free will. Most fail to choose God’s
pathway. Mark Twain has been quoted as saying that Christianity has
never been tried. However, I think that the early Church Fathers lived
their Christian Faith, just as a remnant still does today.