By Peeter Lukas
178 years ago Karl Marx wrote these famous words:
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people….To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.”
Commenting on these words Wikipedia says, “Marx believed that religion had certain practical functions in society that were similar to the function of opium in a sick or injured person: it reduced people’s immediate suffering and provided them with pleasant illusions which gave them the strength to carry on.” (emphasis is mine)
Thousands of years ago the Psalmist opened Psalm 97 with these words:
1 The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
And he closed it with these:
11 Light is sown for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!
Christians reflexively turn to the Word and words like Psalm 97 in times of trouble, not because Christianity is a numbing anesthetic but for the exact opposite reason – because “light is sown for the righteous”, for full-on, wide-eyed clarity’s sake.
From Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God…” to Revelation 22:20 – “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”, we have a sovereign, triune God who created all things and a mighty Christ who will return “in the fullness of time”.
At ALL times “The LORD—the eternal “I AM”—reigns”, and “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne”, and therefore, we can “rejoice in the LORD” as His righteous adopted ones, and “give thanks to his holy name”, and there’s “joy for the upright in heart“.
That’s a lot of ands for the Christian. They’re not meant to give US the “strength to carry on”, but to point us to Hebrews 12:2 – “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” There is not a saner person on earth today than the Christian who weighs all things in the light of eternity and who loves God above all else.