We've all had this experience: footsteps on the path, quiet voices and then the knock at the door. You open the door to a couple of people, usually women, one much younger than the other. Their clothes and shoes are sensible, their faces earnest but kind of tired. In their hands they clutch books and leaflets and you know at once why they have knocked at your door. They are on a mission.
They want to tell you how dreadful the world has become, how the evil one has triumphed. This was all foretold in the bible, and a great conflagration and the end of the world that we know is about to consume us all. Their literature will tell you about it, how humanity has been judged and found guilty of creating this mess. God is sending his judgement upon the world. The only solution is to join their select band and escape to the heavenly kingdom when the apocalypse finally roars in.
'Yeah, you're right. Things look bad.'
You know, I must admit it is easy to agree with some of their angst. Wars, exploitation, self-obsession, refugees, famine, persecution, abuse, pollution, greed, homelessness, terrorism – it's in your face day after day, and it's hard to avoid the continual barrage by media. The speed of communications seems to have made the world smaller. One can feel quite overwhelmed by it all. A sense of despair and hopelessness is all too prevalent – even the most faithful believer can feel it.
These are the consequences of a world that has turned its back on God and focussed on 'self'. The world certainly is a mess – yet it still belongs to God. And the mess must grieve him sorely.
But there is also a solution.
The people at the door are uneasy if I say that despite all the bad stuff it is a wonderful and beautiful world, it is still 'God's world', and it remains in his hands. Jesus is our hope and future.
(I usually get a funny 'look' when I say something like this, and an even funnier look if I tell them about Jesus and how prayer has been answered in my life. I offer to pray for them. At this point they become very uneasy and turn to leave.)
Then there's other folk who say, 'yes ... but ... terrible things are happening and more will happen. Why doesn't your God fix these things? Bah! Or maybe he can't. Whatever, he doesn't seem to care.'
Maybe they think that if he wanted to, God could simply wave some kind of magic wand and zap the world into order.
We know what to do.
Greater minds than mine have wrestled with this question, but I do know that God has given us intelligence, knowledge, resources – and ... and ... above all ... choice.
I know some Christians who'd rather sit tight and leave it all to God to sort out but most of the world's problems – if not all of them – could be solved if we found the will to do so.
We know what to do and can work out how to do it; we need a radical change of heart. Perhaps the world needs to ask that clichéd question of a few years ago: 'What Would Jesus Do?'
PS One thing I admire about door-knockers – they believe in what they are doing and have a boldness that some of us (including me!) are lacking.
Sheelagh Wegman, BA, IPEd Accredited Editor is production editor for the Tasmanian Anglican bi-monthly magazine and does a broad range of editing for self-publishing authors. She belongs to St David's Cathedral in Hobart and lives with husband Kees in bushland on the foothills of Mt Wellington.
Sheelagh Wegman's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sheelagh-wegman.html