Friday, July 8, 2016
“I want to be a Christian strong and brave enough to make hard choices. But I want to be enough like Christ to make the right ones.” ― Amy Engels
Honor, integrity, decency, honesty, compassion, charity, and caring are more than just words. They define people in ways that mere words cannot. For one person to have all of them apply is rare but not uncommon. I think we all know at least one person who is defined by all of those words, and I think each of us would like the words to apply to us but know that one or more of them don’t, or they don’t all apply all of the time. Still, we strive for them and admire and respect the people who embody them. Jesus springs to mind as the role model for all of them both individually and collectively. I was blessed to have a father and a father-in-law who both had many of those attributes. I looked up to both of them and learned from them. My father and I didn’t always agree on everything and went through some rough patches. When Dad was dying, my younger brother, Robert, and I were sitting in the room with him while he was sleeping. We had made the sun room into a hospice room for him where he could see the golf course. He was only bedfast for his last five days which was the way he wanted things. Back to the story, Rob and I were watching him sleep and talking to each other. We both came to the same conclusion at the same time and said it aloud, “All the good things I like about myself, I got from him.” Dad never did like compliments much and surprisingly to Rob and I, he sat up in bed on hearing us say how the good things we liked about us came from him, rolled on his side and said, “Is the damn wake over yet?” Then he rolled back over and went back to sleep or what looked like it to us. We had to leave the room to laugh and laugh we did. There are people all over the world we should look up to and few of them are in positions of political leadership. I think, my opinion here, that you just have to make too many compromises to be a truly good person and to last in politics. Jimmy Carter is a good example as he didn’t do all that well when he was a political leader but has become what I think is the best former president we have ever had. Ethics are not taught in schools, and if there are television shows that demonstrate how important ethics and integrity are—I haven’t seen them. The world is too much with us, Wordsworth wrote, and he was right. The events of Dallas just recently fill me with sadness and underscore my belief that we are doing a bad job of both teaching and respecting truly good people. Our churches have failed as well, oh not all to be sure, but far too many get all caught up in policies and doctrine and internal politics to be voices for the good, pure, and Christ imitators who are out there. I recently read a post on Facebook of a pastor who pretended to be a homeless man before he was introduced to his new church and how badly the new church failed in welcoming and loving the homeless man who was, if fact, their new pastor. I don’t know if the story is really true or not, but I know it sure could be. I am not holding myself up as an example of right because I would have been just as guilty as many of the congregation were. I, too, can paint with a broad brush and carry prejudices within me. I didn’t like white South Africans for all the evil that came from Apartheid, and then, when I needed a new implanted defibrillator or I would die, who came through and paid for everything and put in a new one for me? White South Africans of course. Another of my prejudices destroyed by the actions of good people who should not have been lumped in with those who were bad. We need to give others more slack, think a bit before we speak, and remember to follow the example of Christ and not the celebrities we see all over the news every day. I had my father to show me, everyone has had a teacher, Sunday School teacher, youth leader, friend’s parent, pastor, professor, or just a humble but compassionate person who has showed us the way. Christ calls us to follow Him, but follow Him means to honor and elevate and emulate all those good things I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. If there is a way out of the mess the world is in, Christ shines the light on it for us. We must walk in the light, whatever the cost, if we are to abide in Him and He in us. Not easy, but worth it.