Saturday, December 7, 2013

The world has lost a great statesman who taught forgiveness as a political methodology. -- Me

The world is mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela because in all of its history, there has been no one who did more to bring two polemic opposites together in a peaceful union in circumstances that could have erupted into one of the most violent and bloody civil wars in the world.  I have watched the movie "Invictus" several times because it just seems so unbelievable.  I have also read the book on which the movie was based and was even more impressed.  No one lives forever, but so many South Africans wished that he could have.  As long as he was alive, no matter in what condition, they clung to the hope he always inspired.  I think it is quite fitting that it was Morgan Freeman who played him in the movie, since Mr. Freeman had already played God.  There was only one Nelson Mandela.  A man who could turn his back on 27 years of imprisonment with no resentment and only forgiveness.  The Bible is not enough for us to become true Christians--we have to see it lived out in the lives of the great, like Nelson Mandela, and in the humble who are all around us but do not have the political impact of Mr. Mandela.  I knew a man in Gravette, Arkansas, population 1,200 who embodied more of Christ's love, compassion, and action than anyone I have ever known.  He never went to college and worked most of his life as a sack boy at a local supermarket, but he cared for the elderly, delivered prescriptions to the shut ins, acted as a taxi on Sunday mornings so that many could get to church, and except for his behavior at Gravette High School basketball games, was the quietest, kindest man I have ever known.  He was small in stature, unlike Mr. Mandela, but I will forever stand in his spiritual shadow.  We can all learn to imitate Christ by the examples of people around us, if we will but look, and learn, and imitate.  John Wesley's favorite book (besides the Bible) was Thomas Kempis' "The Imitation of Christ."  It is still worth reading.  There is a bit of Christ in all of us and we can let it fill us completely if we will just "let go, and let God."  As the world is a better place because Nelson Mandela was in it, so can it be because we are in it if we allow Christ to lead us as the "Good Shepherd."
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