“If you want to bake a cake you have to follow the directions. Even the TV commercials don’t claim you could have a cake by buying the box of cake mix and reading the directions. You have to open the box, put the mix in a bowl, add water and beat it and put it in the oven.”
This contemporary young man, seeking to obey the commandments of Christ, has pointed out one of the crying needs of our Christian faith, the need not only to read and believe and say, but also to follow directions and demonstrate by our lives what can happen when we obey the commands of Christ.
Some years ago a sociology class at TCU made a study of the social and economic environment of children living in the White Settlement area of Fort Worth. Then, using their findings, they projected the probable outcome of their lives.
The statistics showed the percentage of pupils who would be dropouts, wind up in reform school, the penitentiary, mental institutions, be on welfare, commit suicide, and on and on. It was a very grim.
It was a decade later that a succeeding class came across the field project. What had really happened, they wondered, in the lives of these students, now grown? The follow up was fairly easy. They went to work locating and interviewing.
What they found was amazing. The great majority of those students were living successful lives, making significant contributions to their communities as homemakers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, ministers, and business professionals.
Of course, it was not possible to point to any one factor leading to success in the face of predicted failure, but there was one very intriguing fact. On almost all of the returned questionnaires there was mentioned again and again the name of a certain teacher who had touched each of their lives and affected it for good.
The teacher, still living, was interviewed and asked to share her secret for lifting so many students out of the slums into honorable, productive lives. “It was really quite simple,” she said, “I loved them.”
Love makes the difference. It was Mother Teresa who gave this wise counsel for changing lives and working for peace:
“Spread love everywhere you go.” She was merely re-echoing the words of the Master when he said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.”
Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.