Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thank You, Mr. President

In 1919, Woodrow Wilson chaired the first meeting of the League of Nations.

A devout Presbyterian, the nation’s twenty-eighth president tried to bring a sense of justice and morality into international affairs. While campaigning to convince congress to join the League of Nations, he had a stroke and collapsed.

He never fully recovered.

Wilson’s idealism still evokes both scorn and praise. Some believe his high ideals represented the best side of our country. Others view him as dangerously naïve.

The League of Nations did not last long.

Italy ignored its protest of its invasion of Ethiopia.

Germany withdrew when the League protested Hitler’s persecution of Jews.

Few deny Wilson’s good intentions. Many deny that his intentions were realistic.

History is full of great schemes for achieving utopia. Religious people create cults. Political people create agencies. Artists create stories and sounds. Some of us are moved. Some of us laugh. Some of us die. But century after century, dreams fail and hopes are crushed. Wilson’s “war to end all wars” was followed by a war even more terrible. The twentieth century witnessed a continual eruption of despotic idiots like Stalin, Hitler, and Papa Doc.

So what are we to make of the greatest dream of all, the day when “men will beat their swords into plowshares and not learn of war anymore?”

One thing for sure, good intentions won’t do it! Even the good intentions of the world’s greatest man won't do it.

If Jesus is a mere man, then his words just stir people to believe in one more hopeless dream.

If he is more than a mere man, then his words may be much more than good intentions.
Of course, most people believe Jesus was a great man. However, only Christians believe that He was incarnate God.

Even through the mists of time and legend, he is compelling to human beings everywhere. His teachings are so clear, his virtue and grace so transparent, that people the world over seem drawn to him.

Hindus put pictures of him in their temples.

Buddhists draw parallels between his teachings and that of their master.

Muslims revere him as the greatest prophet of all.

Even atheists are usually reluctant to speak ill of him.

On this point most of the world agrees: Jesus was an altogether wonderful and magnificent human being.

So who was he?

He was born to a poor family in occupied Palestine, a border province and outpost of the Roman Empire.

By the time he was born, the Israel of King David and Solomon was as legendary as medieval Europe is to us. Most Jews no longer spoke Hebrew. Most did not even live in the holy land.

Jesus was born in the Greek-speaking part of the Roman Empire. So there is little doubt that he spoke Greek and Aramaic. He could also read Hebrew, because we know that he did the public reading for a Synagogue service on at least one occasion.
All these things are interesting but are maddeningly trivial in comparison to what we would like to know. The details of his life are few. We know next to nothing about his childhood, for example.

We have a record of his birth, his teachings, miracles and his death. Oh, and we know about a small event called the resurrection!

We also have the stories of the next few centuries in which millions of human beings began to worship him as God.

We also have the effects of this man upon history. The explosion of medicine, education, science, and art in following centuries are a witness to his hold upon the world’s imagination.

And, the story has not even ended yet! Every year, millions more of the world’s peoples respond to the message of Christ. As Europe and North America grow cold and indifferent to his life and teaching, the rest of the world seems more intrigued than ever. Despite what academia and media pendants say, Christianity remains the world’s fastest growing religion – by far. It is one reason why many parts of Islam has become so militant: Africa has turned to Christ in our lifetime and encroaches upon the heartland of Islam.


Because Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

He was not just a dreamer.

He was God.

So our twenty-eighth president may have gotten it wrong. Perhaps he was, as people claim, a hopeless romantic. He probably did die of a broken heart, as many romantics do.

But if Wilson was wrong, his error was just about timing and means.

The Kingdom of God will come when God decides. We can’t make it happen. We can’t even predict when it will happen.

We can worship the One who will someday make it happen.

We can serve Him by serving others until it happens.

We don’t become broken hearted over what we are unable to accomplish. But we don’t give up either. We keep praying. We keep working.

Someday there will be a real League of Nations.

The Jew will take the Egyptian by the hand and say, “let us go up to t \eh House of the Lord and offer there our sacrifice unto the God of Jacob.”

When that Jew and that Egyptian get there, they will see a throne. On that throne there will be a man who not only had good intentions but the power to turn his good intentions into reality.

Perhaps this year. Perhaps next. Perhaps a generation from now. But someday.

Thank you Mr. President for daring to dream.

Sleep well.

When you wake, you will see everything you hoped for.

Those who laughed will not see it.

The Kingdom of God is for the pure in heart; the ones we often call naive.

No comments: