“To old wine and new, which take away the understanding of my people. They consult a wooden idol and are answered by a stick of wood. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.” (Reference: Hosea 4:11-12 )
In 1552 Menno Simons wrote, “Everyone in general boasts himself to be Christian, and that they have the Word of God, even though their total ambition and conduct is contrary to Christ and to Christ’s Word. If one addresses himself to the Magistrates, who surely ought to know about the way of the Lord and the Law of God, as Jeremiah has it, then one discovers that they have broken the yoke and have rent the bands asunder. If we go to the preachers we discover a Cain-like disfavor for all who fear the Lord, an incurable money madness and a Balaam-like avarice, a frivolous and liberal doctrine, idolatrous sacraments, and a sensuous, vain, and lazy life, as anyone can see. If we turn to the common people there we see grasping greed, carousing and drinking, lying and cheating, cursing and swearing, with some also adultery and fornication, with other plunder and pillage, as they steal and slay. Yes, men carry on in such fashion, alas, that one may well sigh and lament, with the saintly Hosea, that neither fidelity and love nor the Word of God is left in the land but that blasphemy, lying, stealing, murder, and adultery have taken over, and blood touches blood. . . . Dear Lord, how much longer must this terrible great blindness, blasphemy, error, and abomination last, this willfully reckless life?” In 2014 a weary and cynical Carole says, “Amen!”
But other times (when I am not weary or cynical) I have hope that things are not as dire as Simons believes them to be, and I realize that there are large oases of hope and encouragement in the world. We just need to find them and drink deeply. Or better yet, create them ourselves by our hope and compassion.
It is easy to cry “Woe is me!”, especially if you are a powerful writer! But, historic Anabaptist Simons, the better sign of any Christian man or woman is to see the world as such, and yet life in hope that things will get better. May you beloved gird up yourself and set up making the change that you want to see in the world. Selah!