It's all about choice!
We can choose to do this or that, to act or react, but when it comes right down to it, it's our choices that cause the most effect in our lives! Okay, so maybe you were born with some sort of disability; you can choose whether to let that disability rule you or you can rule your disability ( use it for the glory of God )! Okay, so you contracted leukemia, or some other form of cancer ( life-threatening disease ); you can let it determine the course of your life ( from now on, or you can choose to battle that illness with every weapon at your disposal, again, all for the Glory of God! Maybe Life seems to have dealt you an unplayable hand, and the course for you seems to be either to keep losing or to fold & cash it all in!
There is so much evil ( and it seems to be getting worse ever day ) that we are tempted to despair! Those of us who happen to hear the world, or local news, whether we listen religiously or just pick up tidbits here & there, might look at all the deprivation & devastation that seems to be a daily, even almost hourly occurrence somewhere in this wide world & wonder if the world will ever have peace! ( Sorry, Miss America! ) How can Christians ever hope to have a positive impact when the problem of evil seems to be so insurmountable & evil itself seems to have such an unbreakable grasp on pretty much everything we see!
While Christianity has undeniably had a positive impact on the world at large in the past, it would seem almost that, in the past century or so ( at least ) that the Church has seemed to lose sight of an effective Solution to the problem of evil, while it is certain others, Christians & non-Christians alike, who have, apart from the Institutional Church, seemingly had a greater & more positive effect on the evil that besets us on every side!
By exposing the failures of the Institutional Church, rather than extolling the One with Whom She is supposed to have Blessed Union, certain of us may be accused of negativity, of straining at the leash to nit-pick at the Bride of Christ & point out every flaw ( though She is 'perfect'-Hebrews 10:14 )! To a point, that may be true, but maybe a little negativity is needed here! If there is wrongful action or inaction going on, in the Church or outside of it, it needs to be exposed & dealt with! Maybe much of the problem within the Institutional Church is the cause for much of the negative effect that we have noted around the world when it comes to the problem of evil?!
For sake of space & time, we'll not go too far into it right now, but the period of time when the ( Institutional ) Church ceased offering a truly effective solution to the problem of evil can probably be narrowed down to 1-2 centuries ago when the theology & doctrine of the Orthodox Church became more of an escapist pipe-dream rather than a victorious hope, or even a realization that it was indeed fulfilled! This is not to say, again, that the Church has had no positive impact on the world around us, but it certainly is fairly clear that since the early days of Christianity have passed, She has steadily begun to offer this wide world less & less of an effective solution to the problem of evil!
Though She no doubt has had a more or less positive impact, especially in certain areas of the globe, it is not too hard to see that the Church has become less effective! There are manifold witnesses, even in the past couple centuries, to the effectiveness & impact that even a weakened Gospel has had on the world at large; we cannot deny this glorious fact, nor do we wish to detract from it, but how much more glorious would it be if it were the Full ( filled ) Gospel that gone out?!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ, for the most part, has lost its effectiveness because it has become the Gospel of Salvation, about going to Heaven when you die, rather than the Kingdom Gospel that Jesus & His followers preached, teaching the disciples of Christ to seek that His will would be done in the here & now, living in His Kingdom rather than that of men, not seeking escape from this earth, but rather bringing His Kingdom to bear 'on earth as it is in heaven'!
Call this 'negativity' if you will, but the longer the Church wallows in this morass of pride & prejudice, the longer it will take to effect a real & lasting solution to the problem of evil & to affect the world around us in a more positive way! ( when we're expecting to be 'raptured' from this earth any day now, why would we 'polish brass on a sinking ship? ) Though the effectiveness of the Gospel of Salvation has, praise be to God, had a positive impact in many areas of the globe, to a greater or lesser extent, it has weakened many individual Christians & caused them to be less effective in the here & now!''
And so we come full circle; we have a choice! Many individuals & I dare say this is human nature, are happy to latch on to the promised ( future ) hope of heaven & escape from the problem of evil! To inherit, at some point in the future, a virtual Paradise, free of the rigors & dangers of this life ( think of it, no more disabilities, deformations, or diseases, no more physical tears ( even for joy? )! We may someday see that, as the sciences of medicine & biology advance, as the brotherhood of man ( kind ) is realized more & more, etc! As more & more individuals make positive & life-changing choices, this Kingdom Gospel will continue to spread & through the Work of the Body of Christ, the borders of His Kingdom will continue to expand!
Apart from the work of the Spirit within, it may well be argued, men & women will never make the choices that need to be made in order to effect this positive impact! As we have noted; even though the Kingdom Gospel has been weakened to a mere Gospel of Salvation, the Work of the Holy Spirit cannot be discounted or ignored; the effect & impact of even that weakened & corrupted version of the Gospel has been a more or less positive one! The choices that have been made as a result of the Revelation of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ have had the intended effect! More & more Christians everyday & around the globe are rising up to face the evils that surround them!
What it comes down to, not only here in America, but around the globe, is; 'will the circle be unbroken?' Or will we dare to break the cycle and firmly establish the Kingdom Gospel, realizing that the Salvation of God's People was fulfilled long ago on an old wooden cross?!
Charles Haddon Shank