You’re an Idealist
C. E. Hocking, Cardiff
“You’re an Idealist”
Yes, that was the phrase that caused my ears to prick up! Quite apart from the conversation which had led to the statement, I discerned an attitude to which many of the Lord’s people give their assent in one form or another. After all, there is surely a need for the fascination of the ideal, today more than ever. How sadly true is that Scripture which tells us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish”, Prov. 29. 18. That little word “perish” hardly does justice to the word used which would be translated more forcefully and accurately by “break loose, run wild or cast off restraint”. It is, in fact, the word used of Israel’s behaviour before the molten calf in Exodus 32. 25 and the Revised Version translates it “broken loose” in that verse. Undoubtedly the days in which we live are characterised by insubjection and irresponsibility and almost every department of life has its examples of men doing that which is right in their own eyes. Have we not imbibed a little of this intoxicant though we are God’s people: do we not find assemblies affected by those who cast off restraint?
But the proverb teaches us that it is where there is no vision that people cast off restraint. That word “vision” contains another lesson for us. The context shows that it refers to that direct communication of the mind of God to the prophet and through him to the people. Such revelation was recorded by inspiration and so the parallelism of the verse presents the contrast to casting off restraint by referring to the one who keeps the law and “happy is he”. He is no visionary who sees and does the will of God. In fact he is a realist rather than an idealist! The Lord’s word of challenge is, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them”, John 13. 17. Do we value those truths which God has been pleased to show us and live to put them into practice?
Let us go back to New Testament times and the New Testament Scriptures. Dare we say that it was mere idealism that motivated the ministries of that era? Was it not much more than this? Were not the servants of God borne along in the paths of obedience by the power of the Holy Spirit beneath the directing hand of the ascended Christ? Have we not in their ways, work and word, abiding indications of the mind of God to which we must turn for direction on every phase of our journey, whether individual or corporate? We must turn to the New Testament in these days of departure if we would be men of God completely furnished unto good works, 2 Tim. 3. 15-17. And it is to the same authoritative revelation that we turn if we are to know His mind regarding the local church. We must know - but merely to know is not enough. Seeking to apply such teaching in the present day is far more than “idealism”. It is faithfulness for which our Lord awaits, which He notes and which He will reward in the coming day of review.