“Religion…is the opium of the people,” wrote Karl Marx, considered the founder of modern-day Communism and icon of secular humanism.
Opium is a drug one takes when he or she feels hopeless, weak and depressed and has no realistic approach to a better life. To Karl Marx, Christianity was an opiate because it kept a person from fulfilling his own agenda for a “realistic” and better life.
Karl Marx did not know about Jesus’ “I have come” statements. Jesus plainly tells us, “I have come…to fulfill the law…to reveal the Father…to bear witness to the truth…to serve others and give my life as a ransom for many…proclaim freedom…call sinners to repentance…seek and save the lost…give life in abundance.”
These are positive statements of purpose, not to deaden our pain and hopelessness, but to give life new meaning, love and fulfillment. Jesus Christ comes to put us back in touch with God who leads us to a life beyond human capacity to think and imagine. He leads us to a loving Father, to the truth that sets free. He leads us to a supernatural power to live full and productive lives in partnership with God the Father that multiplies into hope for those around us.
This is not “pie in the sky, bye and bye,” but for this life as well as the life to come.
God’s abundant life and love is anything but an opiate. As we trust Him, He awakens our senses, lifts us above our circumstances and transforms individuals, families and nations by awakening our dead spirits.
Jesus’ “I have come” statements declare His purpose—to put God’s redemptive plan into effect. Jesus claims a power that no other person can claim because He is the Heaven-sent One.
Karl Marx is right about one thing, however. Religion can become an opiate–if it conflicts with God’s plan for our lives. Both the Pharisees and Karl Marx had their own “religions.” However different they may have been, they had one thing in common—they relied on the opiate of self-sufficiency. This is the false notion that we can “do it alone,” whether we try to obey God’s law or revolutionize society.
These are illusions—drugs that deaden reality of our true condition before God and our ability to transform our situation. These drugs make us “feel good”—while we actually kill ourselves. People who “feel good” hate to be reminded they are following deadly pipe dreams. They may fight back and get nasty and destructive about it.
This is why Jesus said—prophetically, it turns out, “I have come, not to bring peace but a sword.” He foresaw the day when those drugged by the opiate of self-sufficiency would kill Him, persecute His followers, and say all manner of evil against Him and them.
Jesus proved his detractors wrong through His resurrected life which has multiplied itself hundreds of millions of times since.
This Good News of the kingdom, Jesus tells us, will not stop until all peoples on earth have heard it. That includes all of India. Even anti-conversion laws will fail to stop it, and may even help to speed the Good News along.
Let each of us make sure that we live in God’s abundant grace so that we may effectively take that Good News to those who have not yet heard it.