Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, said in one of his most famous speeches, “If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill.” There is a healthy balance in TR’s words. Greatness is not hampered by difficult circumstances or tough issues. In fact, greatness would not be great unless there were monumental challenges to overcome. Victory would not be sweetly savored unless defeat had been stared in the eye.
Meeting challenges is inevitable. Jesus said so when He told the disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation.” But rather than launch into a discussion of how we are to deal with personal burdens, I want to spend the balance of this piece talking about our obligation to the greatest issue facing mankind.
Though TR wasn’t talking about Christianity in his Chicago speech, his words apply. “If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world.” Our individual relationships with Christ are intensely personal on the one hand, but on the other, we are to be beacons of light to those around us. We are to be actively intervening on behalf of people against the enemy as he tries his best to ramrod them into the destitution of his agenda.
All around us there are people struggling with challenges spanning the gamut from individual, to national, to societal. The effects of mankind’s consistent decision to live independently of God are evident even though we posture and pose and erect façade’s to hide our poor state of affairs.
It makes no difference what the fleshly tactic of independence is. All flesh is sin and ultimately it renders its consequence.
What calling is more noble than to understand the magnitude of God’s work in Christ at the cross and share that with others?
As TR said, “We cannot avoid meeting great issues.” Indeed! This one affects us all and is the greatest issue in all of history. If we consistently intervene in the lives of those close to us with a lifestyle that exemplifies Christ’s victory, and if we look for opportunities to verbally reinforce this when given the opportunity, we address this great issue and affect the world greatly.
Does this call for us to boldly confront everyone with the reality of Christ’s work?
For some a bold testimony is reasonable. But for most of us, we seize the challenge before us with a lifestyle that consistently demonstrates Christ’s life, and every now and then, God calls upon us to speak a word on His behalf. More often than not Father asks us to lead by example and encourage by word.
In other words, the ability to articulate your victory in Christ as though you were going to make a presentation is not necessary. Your life, and our faith, are not a show. You must demonstrate Christ far more than you talk about Him.
TR said, “If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world.” Peter said we are to be prepared to give an accounting of our hope. Paul told Timothy to be ready in all seasons. Jesus said we were to go into the hedges and highways and compel people to join us. In Acts, we are simply told, “Go!”
I can hear it now: The devil is asserting that these thoughts are legalistic because I am talking with you about matters of greatness, influence, and action.
Hogwash! Resist the devil and send him packing!
Our Heavenly Father has privileged us to join Him in changing the world. In the power of the Spirit we should dare great things! Together, we play a great part in the world.