Christian Competition

2 Cor. 9:2.---' For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.'

The German philosopher Nietzsche complained that "Christianity has waged war against the passions with a view to exterminate them. It never asked whether it were possible to spiritualize, beautify, or deify a desire." No, it never asked that question, but proceeded to work a miracle. It makes no attack upon the passions at their root; it accepts our nature in its integrity, and, by restraining, renewing, and directing its instincts and impulses, seeks to restore us in our wholeness to truth and spirituality, to purity and beauty.

St. Paul said in the text 'Your zeal hath provoked very many.' Here the principle of emulation, competition, rivalry, is recognized and allowed a legitimate place in the highest sphere of life and action. That competition is a root principle of life is evident enough. What is now known as the struggle of existence is to a large extent a competition amongst the creatures as to which shall excel in strength, vision, suppleness, or speed; the maintenance of their efficiency and the process of their growth are thus secured. Human society obeys the same law. All healthy beings feel that they must keep their place, if possible better it, and to do this they must strain every nerve lest they are outdone.

This sense of rivalry extends to every department. The Lord Jesus gave humanity 'a new commandment'; in other words, he declared a new law that is as fundamental in morals as gravitation is in physics---the law of love, which is to assert itself in every sphere. And we may without fear commit the fortunes of mankind to the operation of this new law. When the spirit of Christ pervades the community, instead of bringing the worst out of men, competition will bring out the best; we must have that spirit. Instead of degrading, as does rivalry of ambition and greed, pure emulation will elicit latent possibilities, awake the genius of goodness which sleeps in us all.

The day is coming when the nations will provoke each other, call each other out, in the causes of education, liberty, and virtue; when a country will be chiefly proud of its preeminence in knowledge, righteousness, and contentment, and genuinely ashamed to fall behind its neighbor in these royal attributes.

This principle applies to the Christian Churches and their relations with one another. St. Paul stimulates the Macedonians by the promptitude of the Corinthians, and the Corinthians by the liberality of the Macedonians. The pattern of the legitimate rivalry of the Churches of Christ, of the emulation by which His cause is best served. Alexander, urged to contend in the Olympic games, replied, "I will, when you find me kings to run with." The race of the Churches is a race of kings, and the crown for which they strive is one reserved for largest service and sacrifice. But how often is this forgotten, and Christian societies contend for privilege and precedence. It is not in the killing our of denominationalism that the solution lies. 'God hath set one thing over against another,' and His final purpose will be perfected by action and interaction of diversified systems, but as love is made perfect the contrariety will produce only a higher harmony. Then a Church will glory in its successes for Christ sake; and by the sight of the other's zeal and triumph it will be stimulated to realize the fullness of its capacity and resource. 'They cry one to another.'

When the principle of service and self-sacrifice is accepted in its fullness and becomes the inspiration of society---it will not become that of the society to which you and I belong, but when it does become the law of human life, we shall have a new form of society which cannot be sketched out beforehand, but which will produce itself as naturally as good deeds produce themselves from good lives. That new form of society will be such as only to afford scope and loyal and happy cooperation---a genuine brotherhood of all men, the greatest and a blest entering with unbounded joy into the service of the others. That is what we are driving on to, and there is no going back.

In Christ, timothy. Our Lord Comes