When the American revolutionary Thomas Paine penned the ageless words “These are the times that try men’s souls,” he also wrote the following phrase in reference to the Almighty, a fateful one that should have no less resonance today:
“Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils.”
Though barbarians from humanity’s cutthroat past ascend from hell to slaughter the children of Israel, flames of division and hatred are fanned by the conniving, and pestilence and tyranny may seem our unending lot, Paine was right then and he’s right now.
God has not given us up to the care of devils.
It is something we must remind ourselves of every day. Perhaps every moment of every day.
This is the transcending, transformational message being brought, in blessed time for Christmas, by actor Jonathan Roumie, the calming character of Jesus in The Chosen.
Roumie, who also starred in the crossover hit Jesus Revolution, has been appearing in national television ads for the “Advent Pray 25” challenge – which he believes, he recently told Fox news, “is going to be just as transformative as many of the moments from The Chosen have been for people.”
The prayer challenge, he explained, guides people “through the writings of C.S. Lewis into a deeper relationship with Christ – I think something we can all use as we just turn on the TV and see the state of the world.
“I think it’s really going to give people a level of peace and serenity that they’re really looking for right about now.”
“I think that’s an understatement,” host Martha MacCallum responded.
Making it all the more soothing is the fact that Lewis – a legendary Christian apologist and author of Mere Christianity, named the 20th century’s greatest book by Christianity Today – is voiced by famed actor Liam Neeson.
As the prayer challenge’s Hallow app puts it, “the desires of your heart point to far more and greater than what the world offers.”
“Your life is only enriched when you have a relationship with your Creator,” Roumie says.
“Look for yourself,” wrote Lewis, “and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
Those of good will have rarely needed solace and salvation more than now. But the mainstream culture we spend so much of our days with offers so little of it. The result: You must seek it yourself.
It can be found in prayer, in church, in Bible study, even in the Godly goodness of those you encounter every day.
But you can also seek it in movies such as Jesus Revolution – an account of the 1960s revival that swept the nation – and in books such as The Case for Christ, journalist Lee Strobel’s first-person account of an atheist who set out to disprove Christ’s deity and found himself utterly baptized in it. The amazing book – a logic-and-evidence-driven, meticulous investigation of Christ – also has become a feature movie and a documentary.
So many faces come at us on television to sell us something this time of year. Roumie is selling the best Christmas gift of all, our inheritance from the first Christmas: hope, faith, forgiveness, grace and salvation.
Some package, that!
Maybe all you want to relieve with your prayer, your reading and your viewing is the bizarre self-imposed stress of what should be the happiest season of all. But after the holidays, the world will continue to be an ungodly mess, literally. Indeed, when you look at the savagery, the terror and the tyranny of today, the only explanation for it is rampant Godlessness.
That sort of suggests the cure, doesn’t it?