When the citizens of a fading society are on the downside, they seek to find some demon on which they can place the blame for their demise. They conclude that some foreign demon has surely interfered with their continued prosperity and success, and thus has diabolically sought their demise. This outside force has surely been the cause of why they are doing so badly, and specifically, why their system of free-market democratic government has been impaired. Finger pointing and criticism of suspected demons even from within become the norm of a society that is suffering.
When we are paranoid about the rise of other contemporary empires, we know we are in trouble. A lack of confidence in the strengths of our own civilization leads us to be in fear of others. By our own telltale division and mutual criticism from within, and the rise of other competitors, we know that our civilization is supposedly under attack, or transforming into another paradigm of existence. Social division is the impetus that leads us to question our own social structures.
Whether perceived, or ignored, societies that are in chaos are seeking to give birth to something new and different. The physicist, Margret Wheatley, in her book, Leadership and the New Science — Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, alerted us to the fact that both in the physical and social world, chaos always gives birth to something new and different. We may recognize this sociological conflict within of a society in transition, but we are always apprehensive about the new and different that is coming. Nevertheless, we must realize that social tension is simply a natural process in the social world that is constantly in change. The Holy Spirit knew this when He used the word “sea” as a metaphor to illustrate the restlessness of the people of society (See Rv 4:6; 5:13; 7:1-3; 8:8,9; 10:2,5,6).
The generation within a restless civilization that is most sensitive to social change is usually the older generation. The uncertainty of the society in which this generation resides, will, in a democratic government, motivate them out of their easy chairs to go to the ballot box. They go because they perceive that there are candidates to be elected who will preserve the past, and thus, stabilize society and prevent change.
The younger generation, however, is often the engine of change. The youth are on the streets, marching in protest to the status quo. They seek for a change and the possibility of a spring that will cause the winter of the past to go away. If the society of youth who seek for a change dwell in a society of autocratic leadership in government, then the street protests become more radical. Autocratic leaders often use live bullets to maintain their power. People subsequently die in the streets. But if the majority of the protesting generation is young and unemployed, then they will stay in the streets and face the bullets until an “Arab Spring” is realized. If the cries of a peaceful revolution are not heard, then the peaceful turns into violent revolution.
Democracy is certainly not the most efficient form of government. But it is the most free. And that freedom is worth fighting to preserve. In the marches for change in autocratically governed societies, those in power load their guns with bullets to put down a revolution. But in a democratically governed society, the police load up with tear gas. And there is a vast difference between guns and tear gas.
Our advice to the older generation who resists social paradigm shifts is not to become indifferent. They must assume their responsibility to vote in a democratic society. We must be thankful that we can make our way to the ballot box in peace. And when bombarded with overwhelming information that pours into our minds because of our obsession with social media, we must be patient. If the reported protest march in some area of the society is over an issue that does not involved a paradigm shift in civilization, then patience is in order, for there are those on the streets who are seeking relief from social stresses that have built up within the society.
Christians who live in democratic societies must be thankful that marches and ballot boxes exist. When these two rights of a democratic society are threatened, then it is time for Christians to be on their knees for the king. They must be there in order that they lead a quiet and peaceful life (See 1 Tm, 2:1,2). We must always keep in mind that those social forces within a civilization that change the direction of the civilization, transpire over decades, if not centuries. Therefore, it is not a time to become anxious when we are messaged a news report on our smartphones of a minor disagreement of some segment of society where a group of people are in a march for something that will soon pass away.
The beautiful thing about Christianity is that its principles of gospel living are applicable to all societies of all history. The reality of the gospel is that it brings peace of mind that surpasses anything that can be offered by any government of any society. The Christian understands that Jesus is in control of all things, for He now has all authority over all things (Mt 28:18).
Rome fell, but the fall was because of a society that could not sustain a self-imploding government that could not militarily rule over all the people of the Empire. The people of Rome (Italy) continued to exist after the fall of Rome, but the new and different social order that continued was new and different. So it will be with the fall of Western civilization. The people will continue, but they will continue with new and different social standards than that which we experienced in the past generations.
And most important of all in reference to the fall of Rome was the continued existence of the people of God within the civilization. After the fall of the Roman Empire in A.D. 476, Christians continued to thrive throughout the former boundaries of the fallen Empire. We must not as Christians forget this. Though Christianity was treated as a hostile “religion” in the Empire from about A.D. 150 to A.D. 311, and Christians, in that darkest hour hid in the catacombs of Rome, after Jesus took away the persecuting Caesars, Christians continued to exist, even unto this day. And thus the encouraging prophecy of Revelation was realized when Caesar Constantine issued the Edict of Toleration in A.D. 311:
These [enemies of Christianity] will make war with the Lamb and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings. And those who are with Him are called and chosen and faithful (Rv 17:14).
[To be continued.]