I drafted this post years ago and never published it. It was drafted during the one of the presidential primary seasons, but I never pulled the trigger on it. After reviewing it though, I’ve decided its applicability is not dependent on the election cycle.
Candidates say many things when they want to get elected, some of them true some of them not so true. I heard a presidential candidate say something that was so far from the truth but sounded so good that I thought it worthy of comment here.
Let me first say, the point of this blog is not a political one, and I’ve intentionally avoided writing in favor of or against any candidate. What I do attempt to do is offer a Kingdom perspective on current events and worldview. It is for that reason I comment on this candidate’s statement.
The candidate, a Libertarian, said that people were getting his message and realizing that “freedom is the answer” to our country’s problems. I was struck with how good it sounded but how wrong it was. The answer to our country’s problems is not more freedom; it’s more self-government.
I love freedom and would welcome more of it, but it won’t solve any problems because the problem is not that people aren’t free to do what they want; it’s that in exercising their freedom to do what they want they do what is wrong.
I recently rewatched the 1991 movie, City Slickers. Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) is a 39 year-old in a mid-life crises. He and his two friends from the city have come out to a ranch for a two week vacation and a cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado.
At the ranch, Mitch meets Curly (Jack Palance), an old cowboy with some wisdom about life. In one scene, Mitch and curly are out riding, and the conversation turns philosophical. Curly, sensing Mitch is after something deeper asks a question of his own.
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [pointing index finger skyward]This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean s**t.
Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles, pointing his finger at Mitch] That’s what you have to find out.
Mitch goes on to help Curly deliver a calf, which Mitch names, Norman. Mitch later risks his own life to save Norman from a raging river during the cattle drive. These experiences cause Mitch to realize what the “one thing” is, and he goes back to New York with a new focus and sense of purpose.
The scene depicted by the narrative above is one of the most famous in movie history. It remains because it resonates. There is one thing that is most important, and once we realize that it puts everything else in a perspective.
38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Martha was focused on many things, probably preparing a meal, being a good host, and maintaining her reputation amongst her guests. This caused her anxiety, as a multitude of cascading concerns can.
But Jesus cut through it all, “…only one thing is necessary. For Mary has chosen the good part…” Luke 10:42. Mary had correctly chosen the one thing, and that one thing was her relationship with Jesus.
The Apostle Paul would later make a similar choice. Once he did, like Curly in City Slickers, he considered everything else “dung.” Philippians 3:8 (KJV)
We live in a far more complex world than that of the first century, but it gives rise to the same anxieties and confusion. Recognizing one’s relationship with Jesus is the one thing more important than anything reorders everything. GS
I have a relative who is a Christian and constantly posts on Facebook derogatory comments about Joe Biden and and all things Democrat. They are the kind of posts you would find offensive if you were a Democrat. So, I asked him one day if he had any friends who were Democrats. He said, “I don’t think so.”
I mention this example because it is indicative of too much of evangelical Christianity today, which seems more interested in confronting the world over politics and culture than the gospel.
First century Christians had a lot more politically and culturally to take issue with than 21st Century Christians, yet I don’t see any indication in the New Testament that they were picking fights with the pagans over such things. Rather, I see Paul, for example, using the Athenian culture to reach the Athenians on Mars Hill. See Acts 17:22-34.
Jesus said Christians should use money to make friends to reach them with the gospel. Luke 16:1-9. Christians today are too often doing the opposite with their politics.
So, today for the first time in history, man intentionally hit an astroid with a projectile and altered its course. Humanity will now breathe a sigh of relief knowing man has a fighting chance against the greatest threat to global annihilation.
When I heard the news today, my mind went to a completely different place. I thought, what if 1,000 years ago, we had told Christians that before Jesus returned we would be able to launch a rocket 7 miles into space and intentionally hit an astroid less than 200 yards wide with enough force to alter its course.
I believe most Christians would have said that was impossible, either because the necessary technology was inconceivable or that by the time it took mankind to achieve such technology, Jesus would have already returned. Yet, here we are.
As we have slipped back into our lives at home, I’ve thought through what we read, saw, and learned related to our Early Christian, Medieval Travel Journal tour.
The first two three hundred of the years of the Church was marked most conspicuously by persecution. We discussed some of those first century martyrs, including Ignatius who gave the ultimate proof of his discipleship in the Colosseum in Rome. After the Apostle Paul addressed in his New Testament letters some of those teachers who were painting outside the lines, with the exception of Gnosticism, we don’t hear much about heresy during the first three hundred years of the Church. Never was the Church more united than when it was most persecuted.
Constantine the Great’s vision, conversion, and his victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge changed everything. The Church was finally free to worship in the Roman Empire, and more than that, the full support of the Roman Emperor, who assisted in the building of new churches and baptistries and in restoring to Christians and churches what had been taken from them during the persecutions that preceded Constantine.
But with that new freedom, dissension suddenly became a luxury the Church could seemingly afford. Heresies like Arianism, which had been simmering beneath the veneer of Christianity’s public face to the empire now bubbled to the surface. Others followed, Donatism, Pelegianism, and Nestorianism are just some examples.