Thoughts On Religion At The Front - Ch. 14
( Originally Published 1917 )
THERE are objections, I know, which arise in the mind to this insistence on God and the will or kingdom on which He is at work in the world, and they, must be faced. It is easy, I feel, to speak of the will of God in general terms. But what does it mean in particular ? Can it he known or defined ? Is it practicable ?
I remember being puzzled by a great religious teacher to whom I owe much Father Kelly of the Society of the Sacred Mission, Kelham. It was almost comic to me that in the same breath he would urge (I) that the one thing needful was faith in God and in the will which He is accomplishing in His world, andówith equal energy (2) that no one could say what in the world that will is. It reminded me of those philosophers who liken the meta-physical pursuit of the Absolute to Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark,
But there is something essential here. Christian faith in God and in His will is not sight, else it were no venture. It does not bring with it a particularised programme to meet all the changing and complex circumstances of life. It does not carry with it anticipatory knowledge. Yet it is not an agnostic gazing into the mist of heaven. It is the looking unto Jesus. There is light light on His Cross, telling of the love and will and desire of God Who is marching on.
Given the attitude of faith in God and the belief that He is at work in human affairs, the practical corollaries have to be worked out by the exertion of our faculties. If God and His will be the end of our endeavour and the object of our co-operation, then the means towards the end and the ways of co-operation must be arrived at, step by step, by effort and experiment, by science and common sense. The endeavour to do God's will, will disclose what that will is.
After all, in every sphere of human relationships, whether in home or neighbourhood or business or municipality or commonwealth, what is lacking is not the knowledge of what the kingdom of God requires, but the will and motive and power to accomplish it.
We are not short of knowledge ; rather we are weighed down by the power derived from new knowledge, for want of an end other than our own selves to which to consecrate it. The means for transforming life and suffusing it with new radiance abound as neverbefore. It is the will which is lacking.
If we will lift up any department of life to God in the faith that He cares about it and has desires for it, the next step to be taken will be apparent to conscience and reason.