Alienation was originally a Marxist word and Karl Marx meant by it the alienation of the worker from the product of his labors. When what he produces is sold by the factory owner, he is alienated from the fruits of his earned work. But nowadays the word alienation has a much broader meaning for powerlessness. Whenever you feel politically or economically powerless, you are feeling alienated. Jimmy Reed, the Marxist counselor in Glasgow and leader of the Clydeside Ship Workers when he was rector of Glasgow University said, "Alienation is the cry of men who feel themselves to be the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control. Alienation is the frustration of ordinary people who are excluded from the processes of. Have we any influence? Have we any power? That's the question.
The word influence can sometimes be used for a thirst for power like in Dale Carnegie's famous book How to Make Friends and Influence People. But it can also be used in an unselfish way of the desire of Christians who are refused to acquiesce in the status quo, who are determined to see things changed in society and long to have some influence for Jesus Christ. And that is the question. Are we powerless? Is the quest for social change hopeless before we begin? Or can Christians exert some influence for Jesus Christ.
There is a great deal of pessimism around today that grips and even paralyzes people. They wring their hands in a holy kind of dismay. Society is rotten to the core, they say. Everything is hopeless, there is no hope but the return of Jesus Christ. I was sorry to hear Edward Norman, this year's wreath lecturer, dean of Peter House in Cambridge, say in an interview on radio "People are rubbish." But people are not rubbish. If I may ...
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John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."