When I went to post the following to C201 yesterday, I discovered that the text of the popular “One Solitary Life” had never appeared there or here. To some of you, perhaps it amounts to greeting card theology, yet I’d hate to think a new generation has never heard it. So…
Wednesday night I was reading a new book by an author completely unknown to me, so I went hunting around the back pages for some kind of “about the author” section, whereupon I learned that he was best known for founding an organization and an annual conference.
Maybe it was because it was quite late, but my mind went to a piece of prose (sometimes rendered as poetry) known as One Solitary Life. It turns up on tracts, on Christmas cards, and even email forwards.
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where he worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place he was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.
While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends deserted him. He was turned over to his enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had – his coat.
When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of people on this earth as powerfully as this “One Solitary Life.”
In light of what I was reading, I just wanted to add “he never founded a charitable organization, never established an annual conference.” To which you could add, “He wasn’t on Twitter, He didn’t have a website or a blog or a podcast.”
That reminded me of a section — see below — of a quotation from Philip Yancey that has already appeared here (at Thinking Out Loud) twice which says, “…when He did something truly miraculous he tended to hush it up;” so I did a search of the phrase “not to tell anyone.”
The healing of a blind man:
35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
The revelation of His identity:
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Immediately following the transfiguration:
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.
The raising of Jarius’ daughter:
55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.
All of which points us to Phil. 2:6
6 Though he was in the form of God,
he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. (CEB)
6 who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage. (HCSB)
I would add, ‘Did not consider equality with God something to be leveraged.’
Despite this frequent reticence, this penchant for leaving to us to connect the dots, no one who has ever lived as ever affected the history of mankind so richly, so deeply, so powerfully as this One Solitary Life.
Quotations today are from the New International Version (NIV) except where noted