by David Sisler

One of the disadvantages of writing a weekly column is a lag time which can be as long as ten days. When a major event happens, a great deal has already been written by the time Saturday rolls around. On the other hand, one of the advantages of writing a weekly column is a lag time which can be as long as ten days. That gives the writer time to do research, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, and hopefully keep from embarrassing himself.

With that thought in mind, Jesse Ventura was right. Partly.

Unless you were in a foreign country without access to CNN or an English language newspaper, you know the governor of Minnesota did an interview with Playboy magazine and some folks actually read the magazine.

Up until the interview, Ventura's strength was his penchant for speaking plain English. That is refreshing in an era when most politicians seriously imitate something Alan Greenspan told a congressional committee in jest: "If I seem unduly clear to you, you must have misunderstood what I said."

Commenting on the speaking habits of most public officials, Garrison Keillor said, "[they] cannot give you the time of day without saying that time is a topic of great concern to them, as it is to all Americans, and that they have long devoted themselves to finding a solution for the chronic problem of time shortage. Governor Ventura just says it's 12 o'clock."

That worked for the governor until he said a lot of really stupid stuff, showing the effects of all of those body slams. One of the most notable was his proclamation that "organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers."

Grilled on NBC's Meet the Press by panelist Tim Russert, Governor Ventura admitted he believed in God, considered himself a Christian, and believes Jesus is the Savior, according to the beliefs that he has.

Back-peddling further, Ventura said, "Being weak-minded is not necessarily a detriment. It just means that you have a weakness and, therefore, you go to organized religion to help strengthen yourself... And for those people, it's OK."

While organized religion is probably better than disorganized religion (especially since God's Word directs that all things are to be done decently and in order) I submit that Jesus the Savior is indeed for the weak all the weak, those who are weak in body, and weak in spirit, as well as those who are weak in mind.

The year was 1986. The Seattle Mariners lost 95 baseball games, for a winning percentage of .414. Manager Dick Williams attributed the club's miserable record, in part, to the Christians on the team. He insinuated that they lacked mental toughness, that they did not deliver on the field.

How tough is a Christian supposed to be?

In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labor and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Almost since the echo of those words died on a dusty road in Galilee, we have been misinterpreting Jesus to mean, "It is easy to be a Christian," when in fact, he was saying quite the opposite.

"If you want to be my disciple," Jesus said, "you must deny yourself, you must pick up your cross and carry it, and you must follow me. Incidentally, I am on my way to the place of execution."

Well, didn't he say he would give us rest? Yes, he did, but he was not speaking of rest in a beachfront condo or a splendid retirement home. That word means, "I will give you relief relief from the anguish of your struggle."

Well, didn't he say, "My yoke is easy?" Yes, he did, but a yoke is a wooden frame placed on oxen to help them pull a heavy load. And the word "easy" means well-fitted, not easy in the sense of not hard. An ox yoke was carefully carved to make it fit as comfortably as possible. With a properly fitting yoke, an ox worked better and produced more. "My yoke will fit you just right," Jesus said, "so you can carry the heavy weight of living in my name."

Being a Christian is not easy. If it were otherwise, Jesus would not offer to help carry our burdens. Jesse Ventura was right, in part. Christians are weak. That is why Jesus offers his strength. My weakness is David Sisler. My strength is Jesus Christ, the Savior.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 10/16/99

Copyright 1999 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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