Christmas 2017: What a Difference “One Solitary Life” Can Make
Last night, after my wife and I finished wrapping some more presents for our 10-year old grandson, we started looking for something to watch on TV and came upon Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the Holiday Classic starring Jimmy Stewart.
In the movie, Stewart plays the role of George Bailey, an average man whom, through a series of circumstances, finds himself living a life which he had never really envisioned himself leading. When dire circumstances arise, he contemplates killing himself, only to be stopped by an angel named Clarence, who shows him what his hometown would be like if he had never been born.
After viewing the difference which he had made in his sphere of influence, Stewart prays to the Lord to return him back to his family and his life.
The movie ends happily, with all the people whom he had helped over the years coming to his aid in his moment of crisis.
I had not sat down to watch this movie in quite a while and I found myself with tears in my eyes at the end of it.
It was then that I realized that God puts us where He wants us to be.
It is up to us to navigate around the pitfalls of life caused by our own Free Will by using the Gift of Discernment which we have been blessed with and by listening to that Still Small Voice which resides within each and every one of us.
Each and every one of us can make a difference within our own sphere of influence.
However, there remains only One who walked this Earth in human form who is still making a difference and whose birth we celebrate today.
Many stories have been written about Him.
On this Christmas Day, please allow me to present to you two of the best and the gentlemen who wrote them.
Dr. James Allan Francis was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. He became a pastor at age twenty-one and served in ministry for the remainder of his life. His first pastorate was in New York City at the Riverside Baptist Church, and after serving in other varied pastorates in the East, he came to Los Angeles in 1914.
Though he had a busy life as a pastor, Francis was able to publish a handful of books: Drops from a Living Fountain (1895), Christ’s Mould of Prayer (1924), and Christ is All And Other Sermons (1928). His publications are full of passionate encouragement for Christians to know their Lord, to rely on him, and to follow his example.
Francis’ most famous words, now known as “One Solitary Life,” originated as part of a sermon that he delivered on July 11, 1926 to the Baptist Young People’s Union at a Los Angeles Convention. A friend transcribed the message titled “Arise, Sir Knight,” and Dr. Francis published it that same year in a collection called The Real Jesus and Other Sermons.
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village as the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never owned a home.
He never had a family.
He never went to college.
He never put his foot inside a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.
He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of his divine manhood.
While still a young man the tide of popular opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away.
One of them denied him.
Another betrayed him.
He was turned over to his enemies.
He went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed upon the cross between two thieves.
His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth while he was dying, and that was his coat.
When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today he is the center of the human race and the leader of the column of progress.
I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life.
In 1912, C.P.J. Mooney worked as the editor for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, TN. He wrote an editorial that has become a yearly tradition, not only in Memphis, but around the world. Here it is, as my Christmas Gift to you, my much appreciated readers.
There is no other character in history like that of Jesus.
As a preacher, as a doer of things, and as a philosopher, no man ever had the sweep and the vision of Jesus.
A human analysis of the human actions of Jesus brings to view a rule of life that is amazing in its perfect detail.
The system of ethics Jesus taught during His earthly sojourn 2,000 years ago was true then, has been true in every century since and will be true forever.
Plato was a great thinker and learned in his age, but his teachings did not stand the test of time. In big things and in little things time and human experience have shown that he erred.
Marcus Aurelius touched the reflective mind of the world, but he was as cold and austere as brown marble. …
Thomas a Kempis’ ”Imitation of Christ” is a thing of rare beauty and sympathy, but it is, as its name indicates, only an imitation.
Sir Thomas More’s ”Utopia” is yet a dream that cannot be realized.
Lord Bacon writing on chemistry and medicine under the glasses of the man working in a 20th century laboratory is puerile.
The world’s most learned doctors until 150 years ago gave dragon’s blood and ground tails of lizards and shells of eggs for certain ailments. The great surgeons a hundred years ago bled a man if he were wounded.
Napoleon had the world at his feet for four years, and when he died the world was going on its way as if he had never lived.
JESUS TAUGHT little as to property because He knew there were things of more importance than property. He measured property and life, the body and soul, at their exact relative value. He taught much more as to character, because character is of more importance than dollars.
Other men taught us to develop systems of government. Jesus taught so as to perfect the minds of men. Jesus looked to the soul, while other men dwelled on material things.
After the experience of 2,000 years no man can find a flaw in the governmental system outlined by Jesus.
Czar and kaiser, president and Socialist, give to its complete merit their admiration.
No man today, no matter whether he follows the doctrine of Mill, Marx or George as to property, can find a false principle in Jesus’ theory of property.
In the duty of a man to his fellow no sociologist has ever approximated the perfection of the doctrine laid down by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount.
Not all the investigations of chemists, not all the discoveries of explorers, not all the experiences of rulers, not all the historical facts that go to make up the sum of human knowledge on this day in 1912 are in contradiction to one word uttered or one principle laid down by Jesus.
The human experiences of 2,000 years show that Jesus never made a mistake. Jesus never uttered a doctrine that was true at that time and then became obsolete.
Jesus spoke the truth, and the truth is eternal.
History has no record of any other man leading a perfect life or doing everything in logical order. Jesus is the only person whose every action and whose every utterance strike a true note in the heart and mind of every man born of woman. He never said a foolish thing, never did a foolish act and never dissembled.
No poet, no dreamer, no philosopher loved humanity with all the love that Jesus bore toward all men.
WHO, THEN, was Jesus?
He could not have been merely a man, for there never was a man who had two consecutive thoughts absolute in truthful perfection.
Jesus must have been what Christendom proclaims Him to be — a divine being — or He could not have been what He was. No mind but an infinite mind could have left behind those things which Jesus gave the world as a heritage.
Today, we celebrate the birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ.
As you spend today with your family and friends, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our nation and those who are away from home, protecting you and me.
Please allow me to close with one of my favorite Christmas songs.
God bless us, everyone.
Until He Comes,