Triumphing over the Unideal

It is probable that every aspiring Christian has at some time been tempted to think that he could escape from the unideal, or at least accelerate his spiritual progress, by separating himself from contact with his fellows. It may be, in part, the recoil from evil of a partially awakened consciousness, but it is also a confession that one has not, as yet, come to see evil's unreality. Religious history abounds with instances of men and women who yielded to this suggestion, with the result that by degrees whatever piety they possessed became so warped by a growing desire for solitude and the selfish habits of the recluse as to be negligible so far as any relation of Messianic ministry was concerned. A subtle self-mesmerism seems to have developed in most of these individuals, which they mistook for true piety and in which they wrapped themselves as in a cloak, "far from the madding crowd," no doubt, but also far from the glorious opportunity to obey the command, "Preach the gospel to every creature."

This was certainly not the method of Jesus the Christ. Paul's words, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound," were eminently true of the career of Jesus. Where animal magnetism apparently stalked rampant, there he trod with quiet step, serene and confident in the knowledge that evil is not power. True, he frequently withdrew to commune alone with the Father, sometimes continuing all night in prayer, for such communion is "the Christian's vital breath," as it is thus alone that he renews his vision of the Christ; but the daytime found him moving through the streets of the town or along the country roads, usually the center of a concourse of people. We have no record that he ever voluntarily separated himself from anyone, not even from Judas. Indeed, one of the most sublime things in his ministry was the way in which he gave himself to humanity. Take, for instance, that Sabbath evening in Capernaum when, after a long day of ministration, including among others the healing of Peter's wife's mother, he stood, probably in the doorway of Peter's house or in the open street, and received the throng that came to him. As one hymn writer has beautifully described the scene:—

Christ, the Light
May 31, 1919

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