Back in the 1950s Melvin Endsley wrote the song titled, “Singin’ the Blues,” which was so popular it was recorded by more than one hundred artists. The first line starts: “I never felt more like singin’ the blues.” That sentiment seems to afflict many these days.
It probably has been the case that almost every generation feels negatively about the prospects its future holds. When the crossbow was invented, it was thought to be the weapon that would bring an end to civilization. When the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in August of 1945, during World War II, the same fear seized the world citizenry.
Today many tremble at the prospects of man’s future. Various nations are developing nuclear weapons. In science, the Dr. Frankensteins want to clone a new variety of human beings. And those whose lives are deemed of little value are eliminated systematically. Folks talk endlessly about their pessimism regarding tomorrow.
The mood is not a whole lot better in the church. Conservatives express great distress over liberal trends. Churches are incorporating instruments of music into their worship, with no semblance of New Testament authority for the practice. Some deny baptism is “for the remission of sins” in spite of explicit apostolic affirmations. Spiritual fellowship is being extended to denominational groups, and a repudiation of biblical gender roles is becoming increasingly popular.
Moderates are dismayed that bloodthirsty radicals go for the jugular on every imaginable issue. Cocky brethren strut about with letters of withdrawal in their pockets—looking for names to fill the blanks. Thankfully, they are a rather microscopic few, and are growing significantly smaller as they fight and devour one another.
Is there no silver lining anywhere in these dark clouds? The truth is, all is not “gloom and doom.” There are many wonderful things to challenge the positive mind and thrill the evangelistic soul.
The Christian realist recognizes the fact that times of fear and depression present the ideal environment for the light and hope of the gospel of Christ. In his classic work, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim penned a dismal description of the moral depravity of the ancient Roman Empire at the time of Christ’s birth. It was an era of intense despair; “the noblest spirits of the time felt that the state of things was utterly hopeless.”
But the author noted that: “upon the ruins of heathenism and of apostate Judaism was the Church of Christ to be reared” (1993, 179-180). The rest is history. Popular historian Will Durant contended that by A.D. 300, thirty percent of the Roman Empire professed Christianity (1941, 603).
Times of hardship forge great characters that make an impact for truth. There are numerous examples of such in the early American Restoration Movement. While there were significant luminaries, such as Thomas and Alexander Campbell, who were men of education and refinement, others like “Raccoon” John Smith and Moses E. Lard, emerged from the backwoods of a frontier environment to become champions of truth and soul-winners extraordinaire.
There are a great number of younger men and women today who are rich students of the Bible and are strong in faith. They constitute a brilliant star of hope on the spiritual horizon.
The world of modern technology provides an unprecedented array of tools by which to do research. Thousands of books, articles, and scholarly materials are available through the search mechanisms of the worldwide web. Biblical files instantly catalog the use of a word throughout the entire library of Scripture. A considerable array of lexical tools, commentaries, etc., are at the disposal of the modern student. Data that formerly took days, weeks, and months to painstakingly dig out, now are accessible in moments.
In addition, Christians are able to teach the gospel directly around the globe by use of the internet. Solid biblical articles by the thousands can be dispatched instantly to nations anywhere on the planet. Well-designed, informative web sites are accessed by countless non-Christians who are searching for truth, but who would not be disposed to enter a church facility. Audio and video sermons and classes can be made available via the internet at no cost to sincere people who long for something better in their lives. Sound, balanced journals are available to help the church negotiate through troubled waters.
This is not the time for the people of God to be “singin’ the blues.” It is the ideal age for Christians to rise up and answer the needs of a confused and wounded generation.