One of the most eloquent and influential evangelical Christian leaders of our time was Charles W. “Chuck” Colson.
However this wasn’t always the case, prior to his conversion he served under President Richard Nixon.
Colson soon became known internally as Nixon’s hard man or the evil genius of the administration. This fact later became all too well-known during the Watergate scandal, when Colson was as identified and arrested as one of the Watergate Seven.
Shortly after his arrest he read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and eventually gave his life to Jesus.
His conversion sparked a radical life change; he plead guilty to obstruction of justice then went on to serve time prison. Once released he soon became the leading voice on all Christian worldview matters up until his death in 2012.
In the capstone to his career Colson’s My Final Word: Holding Tight to the Issues that Matter Most, Colson issues a clear call for Christians to think critically about today’s most pressing issues.
Below is the excerpt, “Our Christian Heritage,” from My Final Word:
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the dedication of the Marine Corps Museum at Quantico, a beautiful structure rising out of the Virginia countryside in a shape suggestive of the famous photo of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima. While I sat waiting for the festivities to begin, I was struck as I looked around me at the incredible camaraderie that all of these Marines and former Marines enjoyed. An eighty-five-year-old man sitting right behind me said, “I’ve been a Marine for sixty-seven years.” What he meant is what Marines say: once a Marine, always a Marine. He enlisted when he was eighteen, did his duty in the Pacific, came home, and built a life for himself. But here he was, halfway across the country, celebrating the opening of the Marine museum.
Jim Lehrer, the PBS newscaster and a former Marine, explained it well: “What’s important to understand about Marines is that they know that their safety depends on the person on their right and the person on their left.” You are bonded together in battle.
As I sat there on that beautiful autumn day with jets streaming overhead and flags waving, I was struck, not only by the beauty of what I was watching, the heritage being celebrated, but by a sort of envy. Why can’t the church feel this way? Why can’t we believe that our safety or our discipleship or our Christian faith depends upon the person on the left and the right? Do you think that when you look at the people in the pews around you?
During his talk, President George W. Bush introduced the parents of Jason Dunham, a young Marine corporal from upstate New York, born on November 10, the birthday of the Marine Corps. He was born, as Bush put it, to be a Marine. It was then announced that Dunham was being posthumously awarded the highest military honor that can be given: the Congressional Medal of Honor. Dunham had been leading a squad of Marines who were suddenly attacked. They were in hand-to-hand combat. An Iraqi militant seized Dunham by the neck, and Dunham shouted to his comrades, “Watch what he’s got in his hand!” At which point the insurgent threw a live grenade into the midst of the Marines and released his grip on Dunham. The young man immediately turned and fell on his helmet over the grenade.
Why did he do it? To save the men serving under him: true heroic altruism—the one thing that Darwinian theories of natural selection can never account for. It’s also the very thing the Bible calls Christians to be prepared to do: “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
As part of the ceremony, the various battle flags of the Marines were paraded in front of the dais, starting with Tripoli, going through a score of names familiar to every Marine: Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima, Fallujah. The colors carried into the battle by the Marines were displayed. I don’t think I was the only one in the crowd with my spine tingling, my chest swelling with just a little more pride. One of the things that drive Marines to be the best at their trade is their proud heritage. They know how important it is that they carry on that tradition.
I wonder how many Christians really understand the proud tradition of the faith: how the martyrs in the first century gave their lives to preserve the gospel; how Christians through the years have done the greatest works for the improvement of mankind; how William Wilberforce led the campaign against the slave trade and slavery itself. We all remember Mother Teresa, perhaps, but how about the saints of bygone years? How about the Christians in the Roman Empire who stayed to tend the sick when the pagan doctors fled in the great plagues—and many paid with their lives for it.
The story of human history is a great cosmic battle between good and evil. [Click to Tweet!]We’re engaged in that battle on God’s side. Would that we had the sense of loyalty and commitment and responsibility for heritage that I saw on exhibit in the faces of those proud Marines.
Nagging questions, these, in the midst of a glorious autumn day in Virginia.
Get Colson’s ebook My Final Word and learn from years of experience.
One of the most eloquent and influential evangelical Christian leaders of our time was Charles W. “Chuck” Colson. However this wasn’t always the case, prior to his conversion he served under President Richard Nixon. Colson soon became known internally as Nixon’s hard man or the evil genius of the administration. This fact later became all too well-known during the Watergate scandal, […]