When old school alumni magazines come in the mail, I look to read about my classmates, including who has died. This fall I found that my college freshman roommate had died. I was struck by the limited and kind of detail our schools and colleges are interested in noting and passing on to other classmates and the alumni world.
My first-year college roommate had come to our prep school from outstate New York. He was a bright, good student. After graduating from college he served two years in the Army, earned a law degree at a respected law school, whereupon he entered an Investment Trust, rising to become its Chairman. He served on the boards of banks and trusts, and endowed chairs at Harvard in Economics, Russian Studies, and World Christianity. He served too, on the boards of schools and colleges.
How little that list told of the heart and spirit of this friend of my youth. He was hugely generous. He was a devoted Christian. He gave to his Lutheran Church tradition. He supported what he saw as strong leadership in Christianity. He helped the cause of Christ, without ever drawing attention to it. He supported faith institutions he believed in. He earnestly worked to make the world a better place. And in a quiet way urged others to do the same.
We knew each other both in prep school, and in college. We were not close friends. But we respected each other.
Reading my friend’s obituary in our prep school alumni magazine made me realize how these good institutions that educate us, want us to give back. So, we tell the world about the business and institutional interests of our alumni. It is hard to speak of the spirit by which our classmates lived. Hard to articulate the qualities that made them beloved. That made them winsome and wonderful. We let the world know what they did. What they accomplished. But not what made them who they were.
It's hard to get at the soul of people. The things to which they gave their heart. The things that made people trust them, want to be with them, want to tell them about themselves, want to reveal what drew them into friendship and service. Indeed, what made them worthy to be followed and admired.
I have often thought of the remarkable interior qualities of goodness and love and compelling attraction that led Jesus to invite others to follow Him, and made them so ready to do just that – forever. Those first fishermen who heard the call by the Galilean Sea must have realized the danger in following Jesus. Yet, they were compelled to go.
There are reasons why we draw close to the likes of Jesus, and His followers. We can’t help ourselves.
That is the power we have to deal with on our choosing to follow the Christ-Way – compelled by the Christ-love He offers.
May we dare to acknowledge this compulsion of Christ that draws us and that we find in those, like my old school friend, who still chose generously and faithfully to follow.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES