Last Monday, the 14th of November, was the 76th anniversary of the Coventry blitz, one of the bloodiest attacks of the German Luftwaffe on the United Kingdom. It was one of the turning points that raised awareness in the United Kingdom of the Nazi’s threat.
There are (unverified) rumors that the British government was aware of the planned attack. The secret agencies may have been able to understand the codified talks within the German army. Winston Churchill, then British PM, may have voluntarily ignored the information to keep the Germans from discovering that they were able to hear and understand their communications. Had Churchill done otherwise, he would have perhaps saved the people of Coventry at the cost of losing the war. If this were true, would we blame Churchill for the mass killing in Coventry? Or would we praise his courage and bright tactics in aiming to ultimately defeat the German Nazis?
One thing we know to be true is that Churchill’s main goal was to defeat Germany and that he was ready to pay the price. His first speech to the House of Commons on the 13th of May 1940 was rather clear:
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat… and many long months of struggle and suffering.
His political knowledge and his vision to defeat the enemy led the United Kingdom and the Allies to finally overcome Hitler and the Nazis almost five years later.
Vision and knowledge are two key factors for success. Daniel, counselor of the Babylonian and Persian kings, possessed and cultivated those qualities. God gave him knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. He could also understand visions and dreams of all kinds (Daniel 1:17). As followers of Christ, vision and knowledge are vital to us. Contrary to a widespread idea, knowledge does not oppose vision and faith. We need vision to understand God’s plans to establish his Kingdom ’on earth as it is in Heaven’ (Matthew 6:10). We also need knowledge, both of the Word and of all sciences of this world.
Sadly, as followers of Christ, it seems that we have hardly sought to understand the global vision of the Kingdom on earth (meaning everywhere and in every area of society). Also we have hardly sought knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. The global tendency of our movements (especially during this last century) has been to isolate ourselves from the surrounding world. For decades, we have limited the gospel to preaching salvation instead of also applying it to every level of society.
Sadly, this lack of vision and knowledge has come to light through recent political developments in Europe and in America. Unlike Churchill, we choose to fight some battles we know something about (e.g. abortion or same-sex marriage) but we do not know how to address society at large. We seek to win a battle without realizing that we are actually losing the war. Secularism, expressed through neoliberalism, selfishness or environmental neglect, is the main enemy of today’s Western society.
The Bible makes it plain that if we don’t seek vision and knowledge, we will be doomed:
My people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4:6)
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18)
However this proverb goes on saying:
But blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction’ (NIV translation)
It is high time for the followers of Christ to recover what has been neglected for so long. We need to start with small steps (e.g. creating prayer and discussion groups aiming to think biblically about the world and society). Ultimately it will lead us to become effective salt and light in this modern world.