The Main Purpose of the Church
A religion which cloisters the soul and nurses it into selfish contentment has no place in these times of grave issues. What we want is the type of person who will go into the world with the conscious guidance and with the conscious strength of God in his heart, to brave all discouragements and to accept all perils in the crusade against every form of evil and sin, and injustice, so that the old world shall not be obliged to live alone upon hope, but find some hopes realized in a holier social life and a more just and honorable state. We want in the church some confidence in the highest, such confidence in the ultimate triumph of truth over falsehood, of peace over strife, of justice over injustice, of goodwill over selfishness, that all our people will go into the grave conflicts of the day with the patience and the assurance of faith; so that all shall keep their standards high, and their valor undimmed, as they fight the good fight of service. We know what is right, when frequently we fail to do right; we know upon which side we should stand, but we lack the great impelling force, and thus are allured to low standards of compromise and expediency and miserable neutrality. But not so the person in whose soul has awakened the consciousness of God; not so the person who has a living sense that there are ideal values, and that the kingdom of God will and must come upon earth, because it is the kingdom of the highest.
The world is restless, under the urgency of almost every conceivable human problem. The church cannot stand back and affect neutrality, and religion will not stand back. Pure religion is always eager to translate vision into service, it believes so earnestly in the ultimate victory that it will and must go out to seek it; and it goes as naturally to work as it does to pray. This has been the religion of all the reformers, of all the martyrs and prophets and world saviours. They have believed so fully in their sense of the highest that they were impatient with anything below the highest. So the church which is to have the greatest influence in these days is the church which leads men and women out of the darkness of doubt into the light of confidence in truth and goodness and God. We fellowship for that purpose and we have no other interests comparable to this,—while all our works fail if we fail to see the supreme things. Religion to us is not theology, not history, not sociology, but God, here, now, immediate, sending us forth to bring in His kingdom.
— Frederick R. Griffin (born May 3, 1876)
Our religion is an inheritance. We have received, the hope and the faith, quite as much as scriptures, music, architecture, special days and places. We may change or we may neglect it, but we cannot deny that this heritage has been offered to us. We have inherited a faith that life has meaning beyond anything which we can now discern; that the way of moral fidelity is always right and rewarding; that salvation is rescued from selfishness; that love, truth, and valor are the lords of destiny; that there is grace and mercy some day to be revealed; and that God, who is too great to be understood, can always be trusted. The facts of life often contradict this faith, but that is why we need faith; to keep us moving forward when, without it, we would turn back. This faith is of widely proven worth. It is our privilege to possess it and walk by it, and our obligation as trustees is to transmit it unimpaired to the society into which the unborn will come.
In times of perplexity and doubt, we rejoice that there has been provided for us a beautiful and daring faith. May we walk all the days of our mortal pilgrimage in that faith, and especially may we so walk today.
– Frederick R. Griffin (born May 3, 1876)
|Frederick R. Griffin was minister of the Church of the Messiah,|
now the Unitarian Church of Montreal, from 1909 to 1917.