Ten years ago, an author died. About forty years ago, his popularity in America died.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn gained a following for his writings. He also got to go to prison for writing against Stalin. He was poisoned by the KGB for his criticism of the Soviet Union. He survived. He ended up in America as an exile from his home country.
In 1978 Alexander Solzhenitsyn was invited to give the commencement address at Harvard University. Had they known what he was going to say they may not have extended the invitation.
Early in the speech he pointed out that if he were speaking in his home country he would “concentrate on the East’s calamities”, but since his audience was a “Western one” he would “concentrate on certain aspects of the West.” He went on to identify the good and the bad of America and the West at large. His speech was not well received. He was blasted in the press and his books started to lose favor among American literary critics.
I appreciate his concentration on the West with a Western audience, rather than blasting the East to a Western audience.
Consider your heart. Do you want to hear about other people’s problems or your own? Your answer is probably the same as mine. It is much nicer to hear about other people’s issues. But what is more helpful to you – to hear why someone else is wrong or why you are wrong? What is more helpful – to hear a doctor diagnose someone else’s disease or yours? It is not pleasant to hear that you have a problem. But to hear that you have a problem does not give you the problem. It is there already. The doctor doesn’t give you a disease by diagnosing it. After he diagnoses it, though, he might be able to offer a cure. However, he will never offer a cure without first the diagnosis.
If my sin is diagnosed, if it is exposed, then I can turn to the absolution given in Christ for the sake of his all atoning blood. But if all my time is spent hearing about how others are wrong, when will I ever get to rejoice in the greatest joy?
Solzhenitsyn’s audience for the most part did not take too kindly to his criticism. I pray that we can take the diagnosis of God’s Law as an opportunity to be humble and turn to the forgiveness offered in Christ.
Don’t be afraid to be told you are wrong. It is like the darkness right before the exploding dawn. Forgiveness follows.