Living in a World of Extremes

The Walls of the Cold War

When I was a kid, the Berlin Wall was a powerful visible picture of the great barrier that existed between Communist countries and the capitalistic West. Both sides were guilty of propaganda as they tried to prove the superiority of their respective ideologies.

There was also much fear on both sides as several countries, especially Russia and the U.S.A., stockpiled nuclear bombs. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Cold War almost melted overnight and the Berlin Wall came crashing down. Many in the world, especially those in the Communist bloc, were euphoric with joy.

The Walls of Today’s War

It didn’t take long, however, for a new Great Divide to emerge and cast ominous shadows over the world. This time it was between 2 ideologies which fuels extremism on both sides. I am talking about radical secularism in the West and radical Islam in the Near East.

On the one hand, suicide vests and bombers were something we never heard of when I was a kid. On the other hand, Canadians and Americans of the 1960s and 1970s would have found it hard to fathom how the West is trying to fumigate God’s name out of its public places. As one of my co-workers at the group home I work at said, “Mentioning God’s name in a public school is like uttering a four-letter word”.

Radical secularism and radical Islam are both flexing their destructive muscles on the fabric of world civilization. As we experience attacks like what happened a couple of weeks ago in Paris, we can easily imagine how secular governments and individuals will feel justified in their atheism or agnosticism. We can also imagine how some elements of the Islamic world will continue to harden into extreme positions.

In addition, radical secularism is also contributing to a different kind of war in the life of our neighbors to the south. Americans are involved in a public discourse that can be described as anything but civil. It seems like left-wing ideology and right-wing ideology are feeding on each other and driving each other to more and more extreme positions on many issues.

It seems like principled compromise on issues like health care, gun laws, immigration and various other social issues is an impossibility. The discourse on talk shows and in Congress are often very disrespectful as both sides take turns demonizing one another. It gets downright nasty.

We Are Called to be Lights In An Angry World

This is the kind of world that followers of Jesus find themselves in. It is a world of extremes. The Lord doesn’t want us to put our head in the sand, that’s for sure. He also doesn’t want us to get swept up in the extreme rhetoric that exists on several fronts in today’s society. It is easy to become controlled by fear and befuddled by the propaganda of different power groups.

There has never been a time in my lifetime that we need to pray the prayers of the Apostle Paul that we find in his Letters. For example, in Philippians 1:9-11, we read these words of prayer:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God.

In the kind of world we live in, it is easy for our hearts to harden against people who are different from us or who we disagree with. We need to listen to the words of Jesus more than the voices of our culture. And we need to allow the Spirit of God to fill us with His Presence on a continual basis so that we can live in love and not fear. I believe that those who know their God deeply will being doing great exploits for the sake of Christ and the Gospel in the days ahead.

In Christ’s love & service, Pastor John