Ideas Have Consequences

I suspect you have been absolutely transfixed, as I have, by the events in the Soviet Union: people stopping tanks, statues of Communist heroes being toppled, the Party itself kicked out.   Suddenly, the cold war is over. Watching the events on TV, my mind flashed back over the past 40 years. I realized that my entire government career was consumed fighting the cold war. As a Marine lieutenant in the 1950s, I trained to fight in Korea. Then as a Senate aide, I was part of a frantic effort to catch up with the Soviets after their first successful rocket launch--the Sputnik. Later I spent 4 years at the side of President Nixon trying to contain Communist expansion, particularly in Southeast Asia. Every day, admirals and generals would brief us on things like throwweight, megatonnage, and strategic targeting. The arms race was a breathless, life-and-death contest. And now, in the wink of an eye, without one missile being fired, it is virtually over. The Soviet empire has collapsed. Why didn't anyone see it coming? How did we miss it? I realize now we were looking in the wrong place--counting missiles and bombs, when the real battle was taking place in the minds and spirits of the people. Let me illustrate. When I was in Moscow last year, the American Embassy asked me over to talk to a crowd of protesters. They'd heard I was there and asked to see me. When I arrived, I asked the Embassy official who the people were. "They're Baptists," he answered. "Or Pentecostals. Or whatever. I don't know." I was stunned by his ignorance--he didn't care enough even to find out who these people were. They were protesting, I was told, to get preferential treatment for exit visas. "They deserve it," I offered. "Religious believers are persecuted here." "Well, they'll just have to wait in line like everyone else," the official snarled. I felt like joining the protesters. You see the problem: Our officials had no understanding of the spiritual forces at work in the Soviet Union. Spiritual forces aren't like bombs, something you can see and count and measure. The most sophisticated satellite cannot see inside the human heart. The force that turned the Soviet Union upside down was a force our government and media can never understand. It was a spiritual uprising against a lie. Communism is atheistic. It says matter is all that exists. There is no spiritual realm--no God, no angels, and no human spirit. This is a deadly lie. For more than 70 years, the Soviet people lived under a system based on that lie--a system that denied the deepest longings and motives of the human spirit. It has created a driving hunger among the Soviet people?-a spiritual hunger??and that's what propelled the August revolution. Jesus said building our lives on a lie is like building a house on sand. Someday it will crumble. The same principle applies to nations. A nation built on a lie will likewise crumble. Ideas have consequences. In hindsight, I wish as a politician I had been more aware of the power of ideas, of beliefs. Perhaps then I would have been less impressed by the generals' briefings and more aware of the real source of power--the minds and hearts of the Soviet people. And of an even greater Power: the One who rules the nations and decides their fate. The August revolution reminds us that in the modern age, God is still sovereign over human history.


Chuck Colson



  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary