‘One Solitary Life’ is a reflection on the effect the life of Jesus Christ has had on the history of the world and its people. That life, begun two thousand years ago in challenging circumstances, in an ordinary town and among ordinary people, was crowned with a ministry of about three years which changed much of the world as well as the habits and outlook of countless people. It was a ministry filled with acts of love, welcome and outreach to the marginalised, and which articulated calls for justice rooted in an unquenchable concern for the poor, the sick, the oppressed and the hurting. It was a ministry that reached called for people who were considered to be too different or too challenging to be included in ‘normal’ society to be allowed in and to play their part.
Such a ministry isn’t confined to history – it has a profound, challenging and continuing relevance for today. The church is meant to embody its demands and to live out and commend them to others. Even if the Church appears too often to fail to do this and to be too much concerned with its own internal agenda, the attraction of what I might call ‘the Jesus agenda’ remains vibrant, relevant and attractive despite also being profoundly challenging to some who would prefer not to address it
The all too-evident problems confronting the world of today are actually not that different from those facing the world in which Jesus exercised his ministry:
- Racial prejudice.
- Sexual promiscuity and prejudice based on sexual orientation.
- Natural and man-made disaster.
- Civil strife.
- Victimisation of ‘the different’.
All these and other things which mar the life of the world and the lives of individuals can be seen and recognised in communities far away and closer to home. It’s easy to feel utterly helpless and completely powerless in the face of such things, to believe that we can’t change things and that ‘my solitary life’ can do nothing to change the world.
Not so! A sea-shore is made up of millions upon millions of single grains of sand; each one apparently insignificant, but each one is still part of the entire landscape. Had anyone the patience to do so, removing each grain one by one would eventually begin to tell. So it is with your solitary life. You can make it tell, however insignificant you may feel yourself to be. Because:
- every act of love;
- every act of forgiveness;
- every welcoming of a stranger;
- every moment of tolerance;
- every word of encouragement;
- every embrace of healing;
- every word or act of support for a charity like Christian Aid which campaigns for justice
will change someone else’s world and thus change the world itself for the better.
Please remember the impact of one solitary life. Remember the one who lived that life and the movement of love and justice which he began. Be part of his agenda, and never underestimate the potential that your own one, solitary life has to change someone’s world and the world itself..
One Solitary Life
He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty three
His friends ran away
One of them denied him
Another betrayed him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth
When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend
Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life
Dr James Allan Francis © 1926.