Beware of Becoming a Dropout!
‘WHEN my son shuffled into the kitchen, still in pajamas although it was past noon, I wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake him until his teeth chattered. I knew he would lie around most of the afternoon listening to rock records on his stereo set until, in a burst of energy, he’d pull on jeans and a sweater and zoom off to town on his motorbike. My son had dropped out of college completely. He had simply given up and chosen, as far as we could see, to spend the rest of his life drifting aimlessly.’*
Does this experience of a concerned parent sound familiar to you? Today large numbers of people are ‘dropping out,’ not only from school, but even from the most basic responsibilities, such as those associated with marriage, family life and with working to earn a living. What causes individuals to become dropouts?
Many complain of feeling as if they were on a treadmill, expending vital energy each day but ‘getting nowhere.’ For such people life lacks purpose. To escape frustration they simply drop out from what they may like to call ‘the system.’
Does getting frustrated with human pursuits indicate serious defects of personality? Not necessarily. The Bible acknowledges the frustrating nature of most human endeavors, saying: “I saw all the works that were done under the sun, and, look! everything was vanity and a striving after wind.” (Eccl. 1:14) As to ‘getting ahead’ in this world, the same Bible writer declares: “I myself have seen all the hard work and all the proficiency in work, that it means the rivalry of one toward another; this also is vanity and a striving after the wind.”—Eccl. 4:4.
The solution, however, is not to be found in dropping out, drifting aimlessly. Humans need a purpose in life, something that gives them a sense of worth. The Bible provides for this. And in doing so, it outlines a marvelous hope for the future of all mankind.
Did you know that the Scriptures foretell that God will soon destroy the present frustrating system of things and replace it with a new one in which “righteousness is to dwell”? (2 Pet. 3:11-13) At that time God “will wipe out every tear from [mankind’s] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” (Rev. 21:4) Is that not the best of news? But when will it take place?
As a ‘sign of the conclusion,’ or final time period of the present system of things, Jesus foretold unprecedented wars, food shortages, epidemic diseases, increasing of lawlessness and other frightful woes. (Matt. 24:3-12, 34; Rev. 6:1-8) Mankind has seen these things on a world scale since the year 1914. Together with fulfillment in our day of numerous other Bible prophecies, the occurrence of the sign that Jesus gave means that we are now more than sixty-one years into “the last days” of this system. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) This opens up the opportunity for people today to have a marvelous purpose in life. How so?
Because Jesus foretold, as a further feature of the ‘sign of the conclusion,’ that “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) More than 2,000,000 individuals in 210 lands and islands of the sea are accomplishing this worldwide witness work today.
But even preachers of the “good news” face the danger of becoming dropouts. Why? Because they frequently encounter indifference and sometimes outright opposition to their message. This can be discouraging, as was the case with Jeremiah, who wrote: “The word of Jehovah became for me a cause for reproach and for jeering all day long. And I said: ‘I am not going to make mention of him, and I shall speak no more in his name.’”—Jer. 20:8, 9.
Might preachers of the “good news” today become similarly discouraged? In his great prophecy about the “conclusion of the system of things” Jesus forewarned his followers: “Then people will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matt. 24:3, 9) How should they react?
Consider the example of Jeremiah. He refused to become a dropout. He knew that people needed to hear God’s message. “In my heart,” continues Jeremiah, “it proved to be like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I got tired of holding in, and I was unable to endure it.” (Jer. 20:9) Jesus urged his disciples to follow a similar course, saying: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matt. 24:13) Are you determined not to allow indifference and opposition to slow down your service of God?
There is yet another area from which pressure to drop out may come. ‘And what is that?’ you may ask. Consider the case of Demas, a onetime faithful Christian and fellow worker with the apostle Paul. (Col. 4:14; Philem. 24) During his second imprisonment at Rome, however, Paul wrote to Timothy: “Demas has forsaken me.” Why? “Because he loved the present system of things.”—2 Tim. 4:10.
Attractive indeed to unwary persons are the material wealth, sexual immorality and other enticements and so-called “freedoms” of this world. So much so that toward the end of the first century C.E. the apostle John found it necessary to write: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.” (1 John 2:15, 16) Are not Christians today in even greater danger of dropping out from their service to God because of worldly allurements?
Besides these things, Christians face pressures from within their own sinful flesh as well as from superhuman wicked spirit forces. (Rom. 7:13-23; Eph. 6:12) Crucial indeed is the Scriptural warning: “Beware, brothers, for fear there should ever develop in any one of you a wicked heart lacking faith by drawing away from the living God.”—Heb. 3:12.
The urgent need for preachers of the “good news” today makes it possible for all to have a meaningful purpose in life. Have you accepted that responsibility? If so, do not drop out from it. Instead, be of the same mind as the Bible writer who declared: “We are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”—Heb. 10:39.
Good Housekeeping magazine, March 1976.