Some time ago I was privileged to hear Art Linkletter speak. Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, he is currently 97 years old. I remember as a child that I had enjoyed his fun, positive personality, and especially the stories he would tell on his television program, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” But I had never heard him in person.
In his presentation he told us the story of his daughter’s drug-related death, and his subsequent personal involvement in the anti-drug movement of the late 1960’s. As I listened to him I was impressed with his speaking ability, even as a man in his 90’s. It was easy to see how, in the 1960’s, he quickly became an “in demand” speaker, traveling the country telling his story.
What Are you Against?
As he told us his story, he explained how he was completely convinced of his cause and how he passionately pursued his purpose. And so, he was surprised to notice that his energy was beginning to wane. His enthusiasm was dissipating. He had trouble sleeping. His drive was fading.
All medical tests showed that he was fine, but still he felt terrible. And then one day, as he walked to the podium to once again make his anti-drug speech, it all became clear to him. His life had lost its energy because it was all devoted to something he was against. He had not even addressed his most important question – what was he living for? He explained to us, how at that very moment, he changed what we was going to say, and never gave the other speech again.
What Are you For?
We really have no choice. We all give our lives for something. But for what will it be? What beliefs do you live with? What vision do you live for? What cause is worth your very best?
As Paul reveals his own heart, we see the balance in his vision …
“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.”
As God’s representatives in our cities, towns, and schools, we are against the things that hurt people and relationships. Things like sin, selfishness, immorality, greed, arrogance, injustice, and cruelty, just to name a few. But we must also be for the things that help people and relationships. Things like forgiveness, joy, reconciliation, love, obedience, worship, generosity, commitment, and service, just to begin the list.
And so, let’s admit it. We find it easy to think of what we are against. But look at the second list. What would you add? What are you for? What is worthy of your most passionate devotion? The second list is where we offer an alternative. The second list is where we begin to change our world.