This comes from the “did you know?” category. Did you know that on the same day this coming Monday (January 30) in different years, three world leaders had significant things happen in their lives? Franklin D. Roosevelt was born (1882), Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated (1948), and Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany (1933).
Born in Hyde Park, New York, President Roosevelt’s greatest triumph may have been his ability to overcome a great physical handicap after he was stricken with infantile paralysis. Gandhi, of India, was the father of modern nonviolent civil disobedience and was assassinated in 1948 in New Delhi. Hitler, after becoming Chancellor, launched Germany into a suicidal path of hate and war. All were men of potential significance, yet the choices they made and the paths they took determined the grandeur of their greatness.
One man overcame unbelievable physical obstacles to serve as the longest-standing President of the United States. He will be remembered best for his Great Depression dictum to the American people, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Another man used methods of passive resistance and nonviolent disobedience to assist India in her drive for independence from Britain. Ironically, he was assassinated on the way to his prayer garden. The other man dreamed of creating a “master race” of pure Aryans. As a part of this plan, he supervised the murder of six million Jews and other supposed enemies of the Third German Empire.
Oh, how we marvel at the capacity of men and women to do good and bad. The impact and potential of our lives has been, and will always be, a matter of timing and choices. So, as we move into the wonder and hope of this New Year, may we reflect on the lives and choices of these three men and remember—all were men of potential significance, yet the choices they made and the paths they took determined the grandeur of their greatness.
One thing I know for sure about God and His future for us—He wants us to be a “great” church in His eyes. Never have I felt more convicted about the use of my time and resources, the value of telling the story of Jesus and the incredible opportunity we have to be the “church” in this piece of the world that God has gifted us. Yes, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.