By Joel A. Hess –
On the 18th of June, 1940, Winston Churchill concluded his historic speech to the House of Commons, saying,
“Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”
While sadly the so-called Christendom that Churchill thought he was preserving had already begun to rot in Europe without Hitler’s help, Churchill’s interpretation of a ‘finest hour’ is refreshing. He brilliantly points out that the finest hour of an English civilization would not be the merry times or the peaceful times but the lowest and most frightening times, for it is times like those when courage and resolve are most evident. Britain’s finest hour would occur while they were repeatedly bombed and attacked, not afterward!
Today, many still bemoan the collapse of Christendom. Well, I happily raise a glass to its demise. Christendom is collapsing but not Christianity. Christianity had been removed from Christendom far before Hitlermania. Christendom without Christen is just dom! Even Nietzsche got that as he brashly prophesied in his short essay The Mad Man.
Yet, there are those who mourn and moan over Christianity in the west as well. There are so many articles written about the collapse of the church and so many blogs offering free advice on how to save the Church. If Christ’s Church needs saving outside of Jesus, it isn’t Christ’s Church, and it should indeed die.
Do not cry that the Church and her teaching are under attack. Don’t fret that bombs are being dropped from the mobs outside. Do not moan that the Church appears to be at its lowest, even her most vulnerable, point. Not at all! These are the greatest times to be church! In the darkest places, the light shines the brightest!
Christ’s people do their best work not in the high times but in the low! That is our savior’s specialty. His lowest point became his finest hour! The nails in his hands became our reconciliation. The spear in his side became our baptism and supper of forgiveness and eternal life.
Why would we see tough times as an indication of failure? It is quite the opposite!
“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the Church of Christ lasts for a thousand years-and it will last forever, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”