Mac and Grace

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Friday, May 21, 2010 at 2:22 AM

There have been a lot of very high profile deaths in recent days, just in case you have been under a rock let me provide for you the list. There was Ed McMahan, Farah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, Steve McNair and Robert McNamara. Each life deserving some attention but today I would like to focus on the last name.

Robert McNamara was the former president of Ford Motor Company that became Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War. In 2009 Michael Jackson might be more relevant than a 93 year old former Secretary of Defense but in the 60’s and 70’s McNamara was very relevant.

He was defense secretary for a longer period of time than any man before or since. During his time as Secretary he became a lightening rod of criticism in the most unpopular war in American history, the Vietnam War. Some even called it McNamara’s war. The outcry against the war was very real and emotional, even his own son demonstrated against the war while McNamara was in charge.

During his tenure American troops increased a great deal in size in Vietnam. Meaning that many men, (remember this was a drafted army not a volunteer army like today) were called to fight in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Tens of thousands of these men never returned and many who did were never the same. Imagine if you can the pain involved in being the parent of one of those soldiers and what you might think of the men (not just McNamara) who sent them into harm’s way.

Later in books and documentary’s McNamara would point out the errors made during his tenure and admit or apologize for some of them. For many this was too little too late and their hatred for him and his policy’s went unchanged.

In 1968 McNamara resigned as Secretary of Defense on the verge of having a nervous breakdown. From that post he was assigned to be the President of the World Bank. He was president of the World Bank from 1968 to 1981 and during his tenure the bank made some revolutionary changes.

The World Bank went from loaning a billion dollars a day to 12 billion dollars a day during those years. But it is not the size of the loan that I want you to think about but it is the purpose of most of those loans I want you to ponder. McNamara shifted the focus of bank policy toward measures such as building schools and hospitals, improving literacy rates and conducting large-scale agricultural reform.

Imagine now if you will that you are a poverty ridden child in a third world country. But by a loan given by the World Bank you are taught to read and your parents can get health care for you that they never could have before. For all practical purposes you are moved from life to death, from despair to hope, because of the help provided for by these loans. Imagine with me if you will, for a moment what these people might think of Robert McNamara.

Today I do not wish to focus on world politics or the right and wrong of decisions made during and after war or even on the politics that create such things. Of those complicated subjects I know little, but I do want to focus on something I am very familiar with; grace.

Imagine for a moment there is a man and his job is to decide if Robert McNamara is to get into heaven. He is a man who lost a son in Southeast Asia in 1965 I can imagine that the decision would be to send him to hell. Now for a moment imagine there is another man who is given the same task except this time he is the father of a young son in a poverty ridden area of the world that was helped by loans from the World Bank. Imagine his son was sick and was able to be healed by a hospital built but by such a loan. I imagine his reaction would be totally different and McNamara would end up in heaven. Here we find the beauty of God’s grace, because this is not how it works.

God took man out of the equation; he took works out of the equation and based our ability to get to heaven solely on our rejection or acceptance of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.

We all have done some horrible things, or at least some things we deeply regret. I believe also that all of us have done some wonderful things in our life that we are proud of. If we were judged just on works how would we determine when we had been good enough? How would we determine when we had been too bad? It would be a never ending roller coaster of in heaven, out of heaven. God did not and does not expect us to live our lives in that kind of turmoil.

The ground is level for the Robert McNamara’s and the Richard Harris. When death comes to us all be us famous or not; the question will not be were you president of Ford Motor Company or Secretary of Defense, it will not be did you do a whole bunch of good things to make up for your bad. It all comes down to one thing; what have you done with Jesus?

So, what have you done?

Scripture: Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.” NIV

Same verses in The Message, “Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving.”

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, we are thankful that you are faithful to forgive our sins. We are most gracious that you sent your son to die for us. With gratefulness in our hearts let us serve and worship you with gladness this day! We ask all these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


all simple/truths are written by richard harris

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