In accordance with one of my hobbies I’ve referred to in past columns, I’ve been reading another old book recently. It’s the classic novel “The Deerslayer” by James Fenimore Cooper, first published in 1841. You may have read at least some excerpts from this work in a high school literature class. The story is set in the wilderness of the early American frontier.
One of the aspects of the book which has captured my interest is the efforts of the main character to maintain high morals in spite of his primitive surroundings and the lack of such morals in most of the people around him.
For example, it is portrayed as a time when many people didn’t value or treat American Indians as fellow human beings. The story also shows that the practice of scalping was not confined to the Indians. A frontiersman might have been equally tempted to scalp an Indian, without provocation, simply to receive the money offered for such a prize.
So the main character would often “go against the flow” concerning such matters in order to do what he believed was right and what he believed would be most pleasing to God. Not only did he seek to live his life in that manner, but also encouraged others to live by those higher standards.
Our world has changed quite a bit since those days. Not only has the landscape of our nation been drastically altered by advances in science, industry and technology, but many would declare that we now live in a more civilized society.
However, the nature of man hasn’t seen as great a transformation. People still tend to demean those who look different from them or who are part of another culture. There is still conflict, deception, dishonesty and violence between the various nations and tribes of this world.
Human life is often not valued as highly as it should be. And while scalping may not be a common practice, many people will still do unscrupulous and even inhumane acts in order to gain some money.
Morals are still lacking in our day, and in some areas maybe more so than in those frontier times.
So in this moral and spiritual wilderness in which we live today, there is still a need for people who will take a stand for what is right. We need to seek to live in accordance with God’s standards and inspire others to do the same.
I heard someone preach a sermon recently about the 12 spies who were sent into the Promised Land to check it out. As you may recall, although Joshua and Caleb were outnumbered 10 to two, these courageous men were willing to take a stand for doing the right thing in obeying God and taking possession of the land. They didn’t back down even when almost the entire nation sided with the opposing viewpoint and were calling for the execution of these two godly men (see Numbers 14:1-10).
No matter whether you lived in Bible times, in the early American frontier or in today’s spiritual wilderness, heroes are always needed who will bravely seek to live in accordance to the higher standard of God’s will, even when the majority around them disagree and may even become hostile toward them.
Are you willing to stand against the crowd in order to do the right thing and to uphold the morals taught in the Bible? Will you seek to be a person of integrity, who practices what he preaches, even when it means going against the flow? Will you be such a Joshua and a Caleb in your family, in your community, and in your nation?
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.