Bob Dole received Congress’s highest civilian honor yesterday. The World War II veteran, longtime senator, and former presidential candidate was given the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony that included Republican and Democrat leaders, President Trump, and Vice President Pence.
Dole, who is ninety-four years old, can no longer walk. He sat in his wheelchair for the majority of the ceremony. However, when the color guard entered with the American flag and the flags of the Armed Forces, he gestured to an aide. A young man rushed to his side and helped pull him to his feet so he could stand to honor the American flag.
For many years, Sen. Dole has met visitors and fellow veterans at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. In his remarks yesterday, President Trump noted that future generations who come to the Memorial “will hear the story of a great man who rose up from a small town in the heart of America to become a soldier, and a congressman, and leader admired by all. They will hear the story of Bob Dole. And in hearing that story, they will truly learn what it means to be a great American.”
In 1960, President John F. Kennedy quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What we are speaks louder than what we say.”
You may not be able to quote a speech Bob Dole made or describe a law he helped pass, but you will always remember what he did for our country. His sacrifice as a soldier cost the use of his right arm and nearly cost his life. He served in the US Senate with transparency and integrity. He shows us “what it means to be a great American.”
What we do truly speaks louder than what we say.
Seeing Christ in Christians
I became a Christian because I saw Christ in Christians.
As a teenager, after I started visiting a local church, I began to see a joy and peace in the lives of other teenagers in our Sunday school class. One Sunday morning, I asked our teacher how I could have what they had. She led me to faith in Jesus.
Tragically, not every person has the same positive story to tell.
Mahatma Gandhi was a British-educated lawyer before he became a pioneer for independence in his native India. His philosophy of nonviolence and peaceful resistance influenced many in the American civil rights movement, most famously Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gandhi was a man of great personal asceticism, making his own clothes and living on a simple vegetarian diet. His personal integrity and spirituality were crucial factors in his work to help India gain her independence. He has been designated “Father of the Nation”; his birthday is celebrated nationally each October 2.
Gandhi’s relationship with Christianity has been much discussed. He read from the New Testament every day and often quoted from God’s word. As one version goes, Gandhi was once asked by a reporter why he had not become a Christian. Although he had spent years in dialogue with Christian leaders around the world, he replied, “If I had ever met one, I would have become one.”
Another version goes back to a time when Gandhi was exiled in Africa before leading the revolution in India. He was seeking the Lord and reading the New Testament. He became convinced that Christianity was the true religion and that Jesus was the Christ.
He chose to attend a church for the purpose of confessing the Christian faith. But because of his skin color, church members wouldn’t let him in. He then led 750 million people into Hinduism and said, “I would have been a Christian if I hadn’t met one.”
“They recognized that they had been with Jesus”
One of my favorite verses of Scripture comes after Peter made one of the boldest declarations in history. His statement was as controversial and countercultural in his day as in ours: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
How would the authorities respond?
“When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (v. 13).
Let’s spend time with Jesus today and then live in such a way that others know we did. The next Gandhi we meet will be grateful.
NOTE: I would like to invite you to attend a special upcoming event at Dallas Baptist University on Monday, February 12. Michael Gerson, nationally syndicated Washington Post columnist and Chief Speechwriter and Assistant to the President for Policy and Strategic Planning under President George W. Bush, will be speaking at our spring Institute for Global Engagement Leadership Lecture Series.
The lecture will take place at 7:00 p.m. in Pilgrim Chapel and will explore how Christians might engage the political arena at the highest levels while making an impact for the cause of Christ. Michael will also overview the current political environment, including many of the opportunities and challenges at hand. I will join him in the second part of the lecture as we discuss cultural engagement related to the topic and take questions from the audience. You can register for the event here.