The other night while channel-surfing I stumbled upon an online Sunday School class sponsored by a host of Baptist churches in the Southeast. I was amazed at the participants, all dressed in $1,000 suits. There was Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Neil Gorsuch, Rex Tillerson, Mike Pence and Franklin Graham. Each dignitary sported a Christian symbol in the form of a tie clasp, lapel pin or cufflinks. The emcee looked nervous at the prospect of dealing with such prominent American politicians.
“Gentlemen, I want to cover only five foundational Biblical tenets here tonight for the benefit of our dedicated viewing audience to see for themselves the state of our Christian impact on the U.S. Some might view this particular show as a preview of the leaders needed to develop a theocracy in American government. If you know the answer simply press your green ‘Reply’ button on your console.”
“Number one: What is the first commandment?” Only silence ensued. “Well, gentlemen, the correct answer is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’
“Number two: What is the first question a human ever asked God?” Once again silence.
“When Cain slayed Abel he asked God, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’
“Number three: What did Jesus tell the rich man to do with his worldly possessions?”
Nothing but embarrassed silence.
“Gentlemen,” the emcee nervously asserted, “Jesus said, ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.’
“Number four: What did Jesus say to his disciples about the rich man?”
I don’t have to tell you there was no response button pressed on this question either.
“Answer: ‘And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.’”
At this point the emcee looked a little bewildered.
“I think I’ll skip the fifth prepared question. We’ve had a real good show tonight. Let the fifth question be simply this: Do you profess to be a Christian?”
My! My! The console board lit up like a Christmas tree. Each man bellowed into his microphone: “You bet your bottom dollar.” Most in the audience went wild in admiration of their prominent political leaders. However, a precious few raised their eyebrows in disbelief.
Before I awoke the next morning I drifted into the R.E.M. phase of sleep. I dreamed that the famous Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy, walked over to Franklin Graham’s console, pressed the button and said for the whole world to hear:
“Christ’s teaching is not generally understood in its true, simple and direct sense even in these days, when the light of the Gospel has penetrated even to the darkest recesses of human consciousness; when in the words of Christ, that which was spoken in the ear is proclaimed from the housetops; and when the Gospel is influencing every side of human life — domestic, economic, civic, legislative, and international. This lack of true understanding of Christ’s words at such a time would be inexplicable, if there were not causes to account for it.
“One of these causes is the fact that believers and unbelievers are firmly persuaded that they have understood Christ’s teaching a long time, and that they understand it so fully, indubitably, and conclusively that it can have no other significance than the one they attribute to it. And the reason of this conviction is that the false interpretation and consequent misapprehension of the Gospel is an error of such long standing. Even the strongest current of water cannot add a drop to a cup which is already full.”
I was in awe of Tolstoy’s confident delivery of his brief message. So much so that I went to my bookshelf, pulled out The Kingdom of God is Within You and reread the words he had written many years ago. Most of you know Tolstoy better for his two other very famous works — War and Peace and Anna Keranina.
I suppose dreams are supposed to be a little entangled and hard to understand. I hope my memory is correct and that I actually saw the evangelical show. That it, too, wasn’t merely a dream…