In the annual National Prayer Breakfast in 1984, then President Reagan told the following story.
In the fourth century, Telemarchus, an obscure monk from modern day Turkey felt an inner impulse to leave the quiet, monastic life of prayer and gardening and journey to Rome. Upon his arrival some weeks later he found himself born along by the crowd as it entered the Coliseum.
He was disturbed by the energy of the massive crowd as they awaited a fight to the death between two gladiators. In horror he watched as the crowd screamed its approval at each warrior’s death. Making his way to the fence surrounding the ‘killing sands’ he jumped over.
He pushed his way between the fighters and began to cry out, “Stop! In the Name of Christ, stop!” He continued to interrupt the duel until, at the urging of the crowd, one of the gladiators ran him through with his sword.
As he lay dying, his last words spoken were, “In the Name of Christ, stop.”
As the crowd watched this fanatical display of reckless abandonment to principle, they began leaving the Coliseum one by one until it emptied. Three days later the Emperor, by decree, put an end to men killing each other for the lust of the people.
One voice, raised to defy an ungodly sport.
We’re told that one voice doesn’t matter – that it couldn’t possibly make a difference. Each election finds multitudes failing to vote … believing this. (Ironically, much of the whining afterwards comes from these same people.)
But this is not a political devotional. The same mindset affects other areas of our lives.
- We see something objectionable on television and leave it on that channel, assuming that our one action isn’t going to change anything.
- We sit through a movie that violates our conscience because ‘getting up and walking out’ isn’t going to change anything.
- We succumb to the losing battle of the of our personal budget because ‘the nation’s budget is so messed up that I won’t change anything by being careful on a my level.’
- We turn a deaf ear and blind eye to the plight of the starving, the orphaned, the aborted because ‘I’m just me. I can’t change the world.
And while it may not seem like we can make any noticeable difference in our world, we are, in each case, being changed ourselves in the process of ignoring God’s voice prompting us to do what we can do.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what is right.” James doesn’t let us off the hook either: “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17 New Living Translation
Let’s quit believing the lie that “One” isn’t a legitimate number. It’s a number that’s changed our world many times.