An Encouraging Word – A radical internal change

Father J. Ronald Knott

Father J. Ronald Knott

All that matters is that one is being created anew.
Galatians 6:15

“People are no damned good!” This was the analysis of “Lex” Luthor, the super villain in the 1968 movie version of “Superman.” When the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket — at least in some eyes — and there seems that so little can be done about it; it is tempting to share his feelings.

However true it might sound on some days, I do not believe that evil is more powerful than good. Evil appears to be winning more rounds lately, but I believe it is because good people are not unleashing the power of their goodness. They seem to be surrendering to evil because standing up to it is just too much trouble and too much work and, besides, it’s somebody else’s job.

My belief is that the great majority of people are good, but way too many of them are giving into their lazy streaks. They are not unleashing their basic goodness. Instead they are allowing evil to triumph by doing nothing and waiting for someone else to fix things.

Edmund Burke said it best: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for enough good people to do nothing.”

Yes, I believe that we are truly our brother’s and sister’s keepers, but I also believe that to help another is not to make them dependent. To help another means to empower another and to empower another means to make them stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.

I believe in the sentiments of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German writer and statesman: “Let everyone sweep in front of their own door and the world will be clean.” I believe in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville. “No country can be strong when every individual citizen in it is weak.”

When it comes to change, there are many theories, and practices emanating from those theories, that have been favored during different periods of church history, especially of late: education (just tell people the facts), legislation (make more laws), reformation (change the structures), restoration (go back to the good old days) and transformation (individual, internal change).

The real answer is, of course, transformation — individual, internal change that begins with a serious personal change of heart. Why transformation? Simply because “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit!”

Unless there is a mass conversion of hearts, one heart at a time, this scary mess of a world we live in cannot be fixed no matter who is elected, what laws are passed, what period of the past is idealized or what structures are changed.

I believe that we religious leaders are failing our people. Instead of focusing on transformation, calling our people to a radical internal conversion of hearts, we seem hopelessly fixated on the external solutions of reformation, legislation and restoration.

Father J. Ronald Knott

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