Peter Robbins was the voice of Charlie Brown in a series of 1960s animated classics. The actor, now fifty-nine, is back in the news: he has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for making criminal threats. He threatened a manager at a mobile home park where he lives, and offered to pay money to have the San Diego County Sheriff killed. Robbins says he has bipolar disorder and suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
Robbins is perhaps best known for his work in A Charlie Brown Christmas, which first aired fifty years ago today. The show’s most poignant moment comes when Linus reads the Christmas story from Luke 2:8-14, then says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
The show’s producers were opposed to including Scripture in the movie, fearing that the reading would be too controversial. They had reason to be concerned: In the 1960s, less than nine percent of televised Christmas episodes contained any substantive references to religion.
But Peanuts creator Charles Schultz was adamant. His goal for the special was to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. And his purpose was accomplished: for fifty years, A Charlie Brown Christmas has presented the birth of our Savior to the world.
Schultz combined a passion for excellence with a passion for God. If we are to impact our culture for Christ, both are essential.
In 1 Chronicles 5 we read that “the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had valiant men who carried shield and sword, and drew the bow, expert in war” (v. 18). But then we learn that “they cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him” (v. 20).
Psalm 149 amplifies our theme: “Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands” (vs. 5-6). Note the combination of praise and preparation.
Scripture declares that you and I are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). The road to victorious living has ditches on both sides. One is the sin of presumption, accepting less than our best and assuming that God will compensate for our willful shortcomings. The other is the sin of self-reliance, depending on our capacities more than on his omnipotence.
How do we avoid both ditches? By adopting this simple credo: As I work, God works. As I do my best in God’s power for God’s glory, my Lord uses me to do more than I could ever do myself.
A wise mentor once told me, “The Holy Spirit has a strange affinity for the trained mind.” The more prepared we are, the more usable we become. Conversely, the more usable we are, the more prepared we become.
The secret is being “in Christ,” a phrase we find 165 times in the letters of Paul. To be “in Christ” means to be submitted to his Spirit, yielded to his Lordship, giving our best for his glory.
Watchman Nee: “Outside of Christ, I am only a sinner, but in Christ, I am saved. Outside of Christ, I am empty; in Christ, I am full. Outside of Christ, I am weak; in Christ, I am strong. Outside of Christ, I cannot; in Christ, I am more than able. Outside of Christ, I have been defeated; in Christ, I am already victorious. How meaningful are the words, ‘in Christ.'”
Are you “in Christ” today?