But I must talk with you a bit about our Christian lands, Europe and America, with huge Russia sitting astride both Europe and Asia, with a foot dangling on each side of the globe. For these, too, are mission lands. Foreign
-mission lands, would you call them? Well, that depends entirely on what spot you happen to call home. They are all mission fields. The whole world is a mission field to God. Foreign
-mission field? or home
-mission? Which? It makes no practical matter which term you choose to use.
It will be well to remember just what that common phrase, |Christian lands,| really means. It may help us in our praying. And it may help us, too, to keep humble as we think about heathen lands. It means, of course, the lands where Christian standards are commonly recognized as the proper standards of morals and of life.
It does not mean that the people are all Christian. Only a minority so class themselves; the great majority do not. Neither does it mean that that minority called Christian is controlled in daily life and in business by the principles of Jesus. For by pretty general consent they are not so controlled. It is not too much to say that there is more of that same spirit of selfishness that marks the heathen world, dominating the personal lives of people in Christian lands, than there is of the unselfish Christ spirit. That may sound unkind and too critical to you. It is not said in a critical spirit, but simply in the desire to get the facts as they are. I am fully persuaded that the more you think about it the more you will come to see that this is simply the truth.
Nor yet does that term, |Christian lands,| mean that these lands are as distinctly Christian through and through as heathen lands are distinctly heathen, or non-Christian, through and through. As a matter of fact, Christian lands are not dominated as thoroughly by the Christian spirit as heathen lands are by the heathen spirit. We really don't deserve our distinctive phrase as much as they deserve theirs.
It does mean chiefly this, that here in these lands the Christian Church has its stronghold; that Christian standards are commonly recognized, though in practice they are so commonly disregarded. It means that the enormous incidental blessings, in material and mental life, that always follow the preaching of the Gospel are here enjoyed most fully. And it means, too, that much of the humanizing, softening, and energizing power of the Gospel of Christ has seeped and soaked into our common civilization and affected all our life.
This is true; yet the mass of persons living in this atmosphere, and enjoying its great advantages, are wholly selfish in the main drive of their lives, and so in being selfish are un-Christian. While Christian ideals dominate so much of our life, the term |Christian lands| really describes our privileges more than it does our practices.