Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shoulda done it His way

Thoughts on the Sabbath School Lesson dated 6.11.11

Do you remember that old Frank Sinatra song from the ‘60’s:  “My Way?”  My father absolutely hated it!  Mostly because of what he saw as the unabashed arrogance of the song and the singer…he wasn’t a big Sinatra fan.  I didn’t pay much attention back then, but since then, I have to say that I don’t care much for the song either.  From a Christian point of view, well, just read through the words real quickly and I think you’ll see:
“And now, the end is near, / And so I face the final curtain. / My friends, I'll say it clear; / I'll state my case of which I'm certain.
“I've lived a life that's full - / I've travelled each and every highway. / And more, much more than this, / I did it my way.
“Regrets? I've had a few, / But then again, too few to mention. / I did what I had to do / And saw it through without exemption.
“I planned each charted course - / Each careful step along the byway, / And more, much more than this, / I did it my way.
“Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew, / When I bit off more than I could chew, / But through it all, when there was doubt, / I ate it up and spit it out. / I faced it all and I stood tall / And did it my way.
“I've loved, I've laughed and cried, / I've had my fill - my share of losing. / But now, as tears subside, / I find it all so amusing.
“To think I did all that, / And may I say, not in a shy way -
Oh no. Oh no, not me. / I did it my way.
“For what is a man? What has he got? / If not himself - Then he has naught. / To say the things he truly feels / And not the words of one who kneels. / The record shows I took the blows / And did it my way.
“Yes, it was my way.”[1]
Now, if you love that song, forgive me, but to me it just screams not about healthy self-reliance but about the over-confident, sinful nature of humanity – I don’t need God; I don’t need anybody’s help; I’ll sink or swim by myself. 

The whole concept of the song completely contradicts Proverbs 3:5-8.  
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.  Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil.  It shall be health to thy flesh and marrow to thy bones.”
Let’s look at the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 22:1-14?
"Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.  ‘Then he sent some more servants and said, “Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.” ‘But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.“‘Then he said to his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.   ‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, “How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?” The man was speechless.  ‘Then the king told the attendants, “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For many are invited, but few are chosen.’”
What would be a modern analogy for this parable?  What if, I were invited to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, but I didn’t go because I had to go to the grocery store.  And then I was so mad at the messenger for re-inviting me, that I killed him?  That’s harsh!

And what about the guy who showed up in the wrong clothes?  He was offered an all-expense paid trip to the wedding, all he had to do was wear what the King asked him to...but he decided to do it “his way”.

Craig Brian Larson is the editor of Preaching  He relates an Associated Press story about another man who did it his own way:  
“Seatbelts can be a hassle. Some people just don't want to be bothered even when the law requires them to buckle up. According to the Associated Press, a New Zealander named Ivan Segedin took it to an extreme. The police ticketed him 32 times over five years for failing to use his seat belt. Even though this was costing him big money, Segedin refused to buckle up. Finally, instead of obeying the law, the man decided to rely on deception. He made a fake seat belt that would hang over his shoulder and make it appear that he was wearing a seat belt when he was not.“His trick worked for a while. Then, he had a head-on collision. He was thrown forward onto the steering wheel and killed.“Discussing the accident, the coroner described the fake seat belt: ‘Though his car was fitted with seat belts, an extra belt with a long strap had been knotted above the seat belt on the driver's side, providing a belt to simply sit over the driver's shoulder.’”[2]
In the end, salvation is not about anything we can do.  It’s about accepting Christ’s robe of righteousness to cover our sins and some of us would just rather not.  Sophia Loren has an interesting take on salvation:  
“I'm not a practicant, but I pray. I read the Bible. It's the most beautiful book ever written. I should go to heaven; otherwise it's not nice. I haven't done anything wrong. My conscience is very clean. My soul is as white as those orchids over there, and I should go straight, straight to heaven.”[3]

“Mark McMinn makes the following observation …:  When we see ourselves as ‘pretty good,’ we misunderstand the gravity of sin and our desperate need for grace. We place ourselves above others, become their judges, and give them the power to disappoint us.“A physicist friend uses this analogy: Each of us is like a light bulb. One shines with 50 watts of holiness, another has only 25 watts. Maybe the most stellar Christians are 200 watts. But these comparisons become trite in the presence of the sun.“In the face of God, our different levels of piety are puny and meaningless. It makes no sense to compare ourselves with one another because we are all much more alike than we are different.”[4]
I want to stop trying to make my “filthy rags” good enough for the wedding feast and accept the robe Jesus bought just for me.  What about you?

[1]Frank Sinatra,  “My Way”, My Way, 1969
[2] Craig Brian Larson, editor of; source: "Fake seat belt to fool police causes death of New Zealand driver," The Associated Press (2-22-08)
[3] Sophia Loren, actress, USA Today (2-4-99)
[4] Mark McMinn,"Dr. Jekyll..." Men of Integrity, March/April 2005

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