From Jim O'Brien
September 16, 2016

Hi Friend,

Leading the Parade

There was a minister I knew once who was smart, politically connected, articulate and handsome. He was also full of himself. Even though he was a minister it was hard to determine what he really believed. It wasn't that he didn't express his views-it was that they changed so frequently and dramatically.

At the time I knew him he resembled a chameleon that changed colors to match the political environment. Eventually his motives emerged. He was looking for a parade to lead. He was more like a drum major leading a marching band dressed in gold braids, white piping, an ostentatious hat and brass baton. But when he saw another band marching the opposite direction he abandoned his allegiance, changed his colors, jumped to the front of a new band going the other direction.

The issue was not about his beliefs. It was about him. His beliefs mattered less than whether or not he was the Pope. It wasn't what the church taught-or what the Bible taught-it was the parade he was leading. He was the drum major and whatever the musicians were playing, he was directing.

Lest you think I'm being too judgmental, listen to the words from the book Alcoholics Anonymous. To members of AA it's called the Big Book. In the section entitled "Turning Your Life Over to God" the author writes, "The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success....Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished the show would be great."

The core cause of alcoholism, according to the manual of AA, is self-centeredness.

That thought came to mind with the recent spat of athletes who disrespect the national anthem. I suspect they know nothing of the foundations of liberty or of justice. Nor do they understand the basis of a free market economy that has made them rich beyond the imagination of anything they could have achieved in any other economic environment.

These people are lovers of themselves. They profess a cause to gain the moral high ground but the only cause they champion is narcissism. 50,000 fans cheering for them, paying $100 a head to watch them perform is not enough. They want to be worshipped. They don't even love God. How can they love God whom they haven't seen if they can't love the people who have made them rich and given them freedom?

Maybe it isn't their fault. There has never been a time in history when one person could be watched by a larger audience than a Sunday afternoon football star with millions of people cheering for him, eyes glued in awe as he runs down the field with the skin of a pig tucked under his arm. How could humanity exist without his contribution? After all, there was a time when the Beatles declared they were more popular than Christ. Jesus, they speculated, would soon be forgotten and the Beatles fame would endure forever. Their delusions knew no bounds. None of them had laid down his life as a sacrifice for mankind. They simply could not perceive that life could be about anything but them.

The Apostle Paul described our day in a letter to his friend Timothy. "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

One would think Paul was following the NFL. Maybe I'll turn off television for the winter.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien