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THE REAL WORLD CONQUERORS
EN have always dreamed of world conquest. The natural ambitions of youth
leap across continents and conquer fabulous realms which as yet exist only in the imagination, but which may none the less become real. Men have dreamed of political conquest by putting the strong to the sword and making slaves of the weak, as Alexander, Cæsar, Napoleon and most brutal and godless of all, the Kaiser. There have been lads who dreamed of commercial conquest with ships sailing all seas and making all ports laden with golden argosies and with many of them, their dreams came true. There are men who have dreamed of intellectual conquest as Aristotle or of conquest in the realm of art, science, invention, and industry. The mind of Jesus leaped across centuries as well as continents and comprehended the moral and spiritual conquest of the world. He had the vision of an ideal kingdom where the will of God in the hearts of men should be the supreme controlling authority and where men would all know each other as spiritual brothers. This world conquest was to invade all realms and bring the kingdoms of politics and commerce, of industry and invention, of science and art, and culture under the sway of the personality and power of Him whose right it is to reign. This is an ideal for which any one might be willing to die and wait for centuries to see its final consummation.
One night on the battlefield in Flanders a Mohammedan and a Christian lay down to sleep under the same blanket. The issues of the battle had made them companions for a season. The Mohammedan was a big, black Morrocan from the edge of the African desert whose religion had been forced upon him by the sword. The Christian was a young American college boy from western New York, where traditional Christianity had been rudely awakened by the war and some of its latent idealism liberated. Both men could speak French. As they lay looking up at the stars, the Moroccan turned his ebony face to his fellow soldier and abruptly put this question:
“American, why did you come over here? To fight for land ?"
“No, we are not fighting for land,” was the quick reply. “We do not believe in war for selfish conquest.”
The situation was becoming interesting. Here was a man whom the young American had supposed incapable of any sustained thinking, probing for motives and causes. The answer was simple:
“Our government seeks no indemnity. We are not fighting for money.”
Again there was silence, during which a shell landed perilously near, tearing up the earth and
splitting the air. Instinctively they drew closer together, but the incident did not divert the mind of the son of Mahomet. Once more he put his question.
"Well, then, did you come over here to make men accept your religion ?"
“Not at all. We came over here to live our religion and fight for the ideals of Christ,” replied the follower of the Nazarene.
The tone of the questioner changed, and with the earnest simplicity of a child he inquired, "What are ideals?”
After a moment's reflection the young American gave this answer: "Ideals are the things that your religion teaches you are worth fighting for, such as justice and freedom, love and morality, the de. fense of the weak and plundered nations against a big brutal nation that would crush them."
For quite a while no word was spoken, then in the darkness an arm stole around the lad from Christian America and a voice, vibrant with yearning, pleaded in these words:
“White man, tell me about your Christ.”
There is more than sentiment in this incident; it is typical. It reveals a large number of thinking men in the army who have discovered that Christianity contains the valid principles of a world society based not upon theological speculation but upon universal law. It is also typical of the fact that there were in the Allied armies men from many nations who, growing impatient at old theories and reaching out vaguely after the ideal, were turning to Christian America to interpret for the world the moral meaning of life. It is lame logic to make a sweeping generalization from an isolated incident picked up on the field of battle; but when one has been with men from many nations he sees a new light on life's problems. In September, 1918, I stood on the wharf at Marseilles and talked through an interpreter with Allied soldiers just landed from Algeria, Morocca, and Madagascar; from far off India, New Zealand, Australia, Java, and Siam. In various parts of France and at the battle's front I conversed with Japanese, Chi. nese, Bengalese, Czechs, Bohemians, Poles, Ukranians, Russians, and with the Latin mind as reflected through Italians, Brazilians, Mexicans, and men from Argentine. Mohammedan, Buddhist, and Hindu, Confucianist, Christian, and Jew, representing all of the great religions of history were there gathered, the consummation of man's effort to understand the mind and purpose of Deity. Why did they gather from the East and the West to follow a great shining star? What mighty magnet drew them around a common crusade in France? Is it possible that after centuries of divergent development, mankind is on the eve of a great social and religious integration? Can it be that the dream of the Galilean is also the dream of a heart-hungry, war-weary, sin-sick humanity? It may take centuries to penetrate to the meaning of this singular phenomenon, but this much is certain, today there is a tide running through the hearts of men which if taken at its source will unify civilization about Jesus Christ and carry it far up on the shores of time; but which will, if allowed to ebb, suck men back into the whirlpool of bitter disappointment and unending struggle.
If we will analyze these ambitions and dreams of men we will find that two things lie at the root of it all, namely, the sense of power together with the passion for freedom and the right of men to be selfgoverning. In proportion as men have become conscious of their power they have been tempted to use that power for selfish rather than for moral and social ends. All men and nations must face this temptation at some time and decide. Herein lies the long, bloody tragedy of history. When Jesus, conscious of Divine power faced the supreme test of life and decided for a moral and spiritual rather than a sensual kingdom and embodied His dream of world conquest in terms of a spiritual society, men and women flocked to His cause out of every nation, kindred, and tribe; in spite of the effort of autocracy and Ecclesiasticism to stone and strangle and crucify them. One of the strangest anomalies of history is the story of the martyrdom and the persecutions of the Church and by the Church in its struggle to realize the democratic ideals of its Master. Let us remember that Christianity took up the democratic ideals of Greece and the early Roman Republic; but above everything else the social and political vision of the prophets. Every