A 5CL Adelaide Broadcast Adrress by C.B. FRYER, Date Unknown.
The Australian Friend, February 20, 1931, pages 4-5
This is The Quaker Homiletics Home Page, Part Four: The 20th Century.
Friends, does not the Christ put His finger on the heart of this question which is troubling us all
to-day? He knew, as all of us know, who have made a study of the problem, that riches are always
made at the expense of others. No one can become rich or even comfortably off unless he has
gained it from the community. So Jesus asked this rich young man to give what he had gained
from the commuuity back to the commuity.
"Go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor." What message have these words of Jesus to us
in this twentieth century ? It is the same message that the great Greek philosopher, Socrates, gave
400 years before the birth of Christ. Wherever wealth is amassed by one class the result is a city of
the rich side by side with a city of the poor, each hostile to the other. Is not this a picture of all
our modern cities to-day?
The Christ way is the only way out of this terrible state of affairs. Give, sacrifice, make all sacred, which is the true meaning of sacrifice. And yet the world will tell us this is impossible, it's against human nature which is essentially selfish. We must moderate our opinions and allow the rich and comfortably off to live a life of ease and pleasure, whilst in a land of plenty the poor are grudgingly given rations to prevent them from starving.
How that rich young man must have yearned that Jesus would moderate His opinions! But Jesus never moderated anything. "If thou will be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor," then "come and follow Me."
How many of us wish to become perfect at the price fixed by Jesus ? Practically all of us have
kept the commandments from our youth, except the newest and last added by Jesus, "Thou shalt
love they neighbour as thyself." If we had all of us kept this we should never have the spectacle of
mothers who cannot afford the necessary nourishment to rear a healthy child.
Friends, the economic social order under which we are at present living, with its extremes of wealth and poverty, the comfortably off and the unemployed, is not in accordance with the mind of Christ.
There come crises in history when questions that have been closed for centuries suddenly yawn wide open. It was in the teeth of one of these crises when Paul cried that there are no closed questions, that we must think out afresh everything for ourselves. Paul had to ask the Jews to throw over the law of Moses for the contrary law of Christ. How could he help preaching the open mind and the inner light as against all laws and institutions whatsoever?
We are, at present, in the position of the people of Paul's time. A question that has been practically closed for a whole epoch, the question of the distribution of wealth and the nature of property, has suddenly yawned wide open before us; and we all have to open our closed minds accordingly.
When we say that it has opened suddenly, we must not forget that it never has been closed
completely for thoughtful people. For hundreds of years our poets, philosophers and divines have
been protesting against the division of the nation into rich and poor, idle and overworked.
But there comes finally a moment when the question, that has been kept open only by persecuted prophets, springs wide-open for everybody; and the persecuted prophets, with their tiny congregations of cranks, grow suddenly into formidable parliamentary oppositions, which presently become powerful governments. Latimer and Sir Thomas More, John Bunyan and George Fox, Goldsmith and Shelley, Carlyle, Ruskin and Morris, with many brave and faithful preachers in the churches and out of them, were our English prophets. They kept the question open for those who had some spark of their inspiration. Prosaic everyday men and women paid no attention, until quite suddenly ordinary politicians, with rapidly growing bodies of ordinary respectable voters behind them, began clamouring that the existing distribution of wealth is so anomalous that it must be radically changed if civilisation is to be saved.
And yet, we hesitate, we have become so used to the prevailing idea that money counts, money tells, money is the only thing worth having, that we measure the value of everything by money. Our common expressions show this. We speak about what a man is worth, meaning his possessions in money; whereas true worth cannot be measured by money. It is invaluable. In the Kingdom of God, money, finance will never have chief place. Character, the real value of a man, alone counts.
We may well ponder on those words of the Christ. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye
of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." It is applicable to us all. Are
we not, all of us, bowing down to the present financial system whereby the money is getting into
fewer and fewer hands with the consequence of more and more unemployment, the only method
of dealing with which is by doles and rations, which are so thoroughly demoralising the people.
Would not the Christ counsel us to set to work to remedy this. The Spirit of the Christ is moving in the hearts of the people. He tells us, "Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened." Shall we not, each one of us, do our bit, by sacrifice, by study, by thought, and by work to help forward the Kingdom of God here on earth ?