Righteousness exalts a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel prize winning author and critic who was expelled from the Soviet Union, is back to his native Russia, but he is as critical as ever of the corruption and political factions which he believes can keep his country from achieving their goals of freedom and democracy. “There is in our days a prevailing and entirely wrong belief that the contemporary world’s dangers and disasters are the result of this or that political system’s imperfections,” he said. Continuing, he argued: “It is not so. However, the truth is that they all stem from the relentless persecution of the religious spirit in the East and from the fading of this spirit in the systems of the West and the Third World. Yet there is no salvation possible other than the return of this spirit to the inhabitants of the earth.”
Solzhenitsyn is not alone in denouncing the decadence of corruption—whether it is in the East or the West. Before his death, Malcolm Muggeridge published his book, Christ and the Media. In this book the outspoken British journalist and former editor of Punch charges that the great enemy of our day is not the threat of foreign invasion but moral and spiritual decadence which is going to topple us from within. He sees the media as a very powerful tool which is corrupting morality and the traditional anchors of society. “It would be very difficult for anybody looking around the world today to resist the conclusion that something has gone very badly awry with what we continue to call Western civilization,” says Muggeridge.
Arnold Toynbee, the British historian, has observed that of the world’s last twenty‑one great civilizations, nineteen of them were destroyed, not from foreign invaders from without, but by moral and spiritual disintegration within. It is interesting to observe that all three men, different as they are in background and philosophies, unite their voices in saying that the moral and spiritual decadence of our day can be turned back only by a spiritual move towards God.
Is Solzhenitsyn right in saying that what the Communist world persecuted, the West has abandoned in pursuit of its own indulgence? Is Muggeridge right in his belief that abortion, the break‑up of the family unit, the fact that church attendance is the exception rather than the rule, are all symptoms of a sick society? Unquestionably, both men are right, but the solution does not come by denouncing the darkness; it comes rather by holding forth the light which God has given in the midst of darkness.
Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus promised, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it ” (John 12:46‑47).
Nations are made of individuals and it is at this point that your relationship to God is a one‑to‑one sort of thing. That flag under which you were born has nothing to do with your eternal destiny, for entrance to the kingdom of God comes only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is possible for men to convince themselves of almost anything, but I have discovered that most men deep in their hearts know whether they are spiritually lost or spiritually have become God’s sons. It is the step of faith‑‑faith in Christ‑‑that moves us back towards God and towards the foundation upon which a nation can survive. Well does the Bible say, “Righteousness exalts a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
Resource reading: Proverbs 14.
- John 12:46 - 47
- Proverbs 14:34