I fear that spirituality is in decline these days, especially in America. I’m not saying this to start a discussion of various religions. Spirituality is to me, extremely personal or it should be. I think each of us needs to examine our beliefs and find our own moral center that best explains the world we live in and the way we live our lives. I prefer the example Jesus gave because it makes the most sense to me. His life raised the standard for fearlessness to new heights and few people have ever come close. In the recent past, only Gandhi and Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave their lives willingly, as an example to others.
I was lucky to be raised in a family with two fearless men as my mentors. My dad and my Grandfather McClintick were my heroes and every day of my life I was given a perfect example of faith in action. They lived their lives with purpose, clarity and honor. They made their corners of the world better by helping anyone who needed it and they never asked for anything in return. My grandfather lived to be 84 and my dad made it to 90. I think God knew he had a good thing going with those two and He gave them extra time to demonstrate their faith. I also believe that both of them had a fearless desire to do more and dying was not an option. They both worked hard right up to the last year of their lives, when their bodies finally got the rest they so richly deserved.
Being fearless and giving over your life to the Great Spirit means you can concentrate on being faithful every day. Once we give up the reins, we get to experience life as it should be, a once in a lifetime chance to make a difference. My grandfather rarely had time to go to church because he worked seven days a week but no one will ever say he wasn’t faithful. His dedication to others was his way of reaffirming his faith. He knew his life had been blessed with a good family and hundreds of friends and he made sure we all knew how much he appreciated it. He was just being the caretaker for everything that had been given to him and his only purpose in life was to leave behind something even better for his grandchildren. There was never any doubt in his mind about his existence or reason for living. His fearless nature gave him the means to concentrate his efforts on others and he never let us down.
With my father, his approach was slightly different but just as effective. He wasn’t the builder that my grandfather was but he made his mark in hundreds of ways every day with kindness, generosity and honesty. He could smile people into submission. He was polite and friendly with everyone he encountered and he always went out of his way to make people happy with jokes and kind words of encouragement. He set a high standard for me to meet in the business world but his path was so easy to follow, “Just be nice”. I can’t claim to have done it that well but I absolutely agree with his strategy. Kindness begets more kindness. Just watching him turn people around from disaster to prosperity was an amazing experience for me and he did it without them even knowing what had happened. He just never gave up on people, no matter how much help they needed.
Faith breeds fearlessness in true believers. When we give up our ridiculous worldly ambitions and we turn towards God and the hereafter then we get to enjoy the world we always wanted anyway. A simple place where good deeds are common and our humanity is a wonderful expression of that faith. We can stop being afraid of each other and turn off the hatred that is just holding us back. Cowards have no moral center and care not for the plight of others. That’s not how life is supposed to work and Jesus gave us the precise demonstration of what does work. Sacrifice and commitment to the common good are the hallmarks of his brief ministry. He gave three years of his short life to change the world forever. Most of us struggle to give three minutes of our day to help others. What are we afraid of? Death is an absolute certainty that no one escapes. It may come today or a hundred years from now but we’re only going to get so many minutes so why not spend them doing good?
You wouldn’t believe how many people still ask me about my dad. His smile, his sense of humor, his honesty always come up in conversation. He left the world a much better place and then he got to meet Jesus in the end. I would say that’s about as good as it gets. We can all have a life of significance and joy if we just stop being afraid to try. The only thing stopping us from making the world better for everybody is…. just us. Fear is the enemy we must conquer and compassion is the tactic we must use. Let Jesus explain it better that I can in Matthew 9:12-14