By Larry J. Curry
As I write this article, fifty American citizens are being held hostage in Iran. Their fate is yet to be decided by their captors in spite of world outrage at their outrageous crime of seizure of previously protected property and lives. At the onset, let me state that I will not be considering this from apolitical standpoint. Rather, as we ponder this crisis together let us notice some of the lessons to be learned. Frequently, a crisis situation helps us in our understanding of people and their attitudes.
Concern For Captives
As the crisis continues, the concern of the American people becomes greater. Such things as their health, safety, and even their lives seem to be in greater peril with each passing day. Perhaps of greater significance is the fact that this concern is being shown by the majority of Americans.
You ask, “What can I learn from this?” The answer is simple. How concerned are we about those who are being held captive by Satan. We recognize that the Iranian captives are involuntary captives, while Satan’s captives volunteer to be such – John Calvin and followers notwithstanding (Rom. 6:16-18). Aside from that difference the outcome is the same – captivity. Christian friend, do we not see that something more valuable than this life is at stake here (Mt. 10:28)?
If we recognize the real danger involved, why are we so apathetic? The danger is real (1 Pet. 5:8)! The time is now (2 Cor. 6:2; John 4:35, 36)! The responsibility is ours! Did not our Lord come to proclaim release to the captives (Luke 4:18, 19)?
Concern Produces Unity
Our nation has suffered some very perilous and divisive times in the past few years. Bitterness and alienation resulted from our struggles over civil rights, the Vietnam conflict, and numerous other issues of the past. As a result, many people both young and old have been disillusioned about American values and world involvement. Yet, now as this crisis is upon us, people of all ages are united in their concern for the safety of the hostages. Differences are cast aside so that our unity may be seen and felt by the captors. The American people are demonstrating their readiness and willingness to do what is necessary to effect the release of the captives.
How wonderful it would be if that unity of mind and purpose were to exist in the church. To be more specific think of unity in the local church. By showing united concern we could restore the fallen (Gal. 6:1), instead of relying on a faithful few to accomplish the task. How long will it take for us to realize that we as Christians are a family? We are to comfort the mourning, rejoice with those who rejoice, and, in general, care of one another (Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 12:25, 26).
We must focus our attention upon others – not self (Gal. 6:2; Phil. 2:4). Concern for the kingdom and its citizenry must predominate our life (Mt. 6:33). Until then, until I improve and you improve, brethren will suffer alone, and fall away unnoticed, and yes, we will be lost.
Consequences Of A False Religion
The Moslem religion claiming about 700,000,000 followers today is a false religion. Its foundation rests on Mohammed who lived from 570-632 A.D., and claimed to have a series of visions over a twenty-three year period. Due to his own illiteracy, he relied upon others to write down the things revealed to him. Thus, the Koran is the sacred book of the Moslems. In many ways there is no difference between Mohammed and the “latter day prophets and prophetesses” of our day including Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen G. White, Herbert W. Armstrong and others.
As with all man-made religious systems false doctrine is the order of the day. The cause is extended often by force, either physical and/or mental. Yet, the Christian recognizes the spiritual nature of our warfare (Eph. 6:11ff; Lk. 8:4ff; Jn. 18:36). These false religions seek an earthly head and leader while faithful Christians honor Jesus Christ as the only head of the one body (Eph. 1:22, 23). Many of these “great spiritual leaders” do nothing more than exploit their followers. This too is condemned in the inspired word of God (Rom. 16:18; 1 Thess. 2:5; 2 Pet. 2:3). The apostles of our Lord did not act that way nor would they.
How can this happen? It happens when people have no love for the truth as revealed by God. Herein lies the warning for us. When we reject the truth of God, only a lie remains (2 Thess. 2:11, 12). Latter-day revelations are accepted only by those who refuse to believe that God’s will for man today was completed long ago (Jude 3). You ask, “Can it happen today? In our country?” Yes! Witness the followers of Jim Jones, the Moonies, and others. Do you love truth? Do you seek knowledge (2 Tim. 2:15)? Can you give answer (1 Pet. 3:15)? If the answer to the above questions is no, then you or I are prime candidates for the philosophies of men (Col. 2:8).
In the midst of this crisis, there is much to be learned. The cause of Christ must be advanced vigorously by wielding the sword of the Spirit in battle. Remember that the souls of men and women are at stake. The time for action is now while opportunities come our way.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 7, p. 118
February 14, 1980