Gain the World or Lose Your Life

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What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? – Matthew 16:26

There is a scene in the play (and film) about Thomas More called, “A Man for All Seasons,” where More has been condemned to death for refusing to agree to the Oath of Supremecy and to the marriage of Anne Bowlin to Henry VIII. More confronts one of the witnesses against him with this very question. That witness is Sir Richard Rich, an unctious young man of undisquised ambition and no moral core, who has just lied before the Parliament in order to condemn More, a man known far and wide as an honest man. Rich was a man driven by one desire only, to be in the Royal Court, near the important poeple, to even be one of them. In this scene, More sees that Rich is wearing a new emblem of office and asks if he can see it. It is the emblem of the Attorney-General for Wales, which we can presume was a reward for Rich’s willingness to lie under oath against More. More looks at Rich and says, “For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world…But for Wales?”

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This is not an unknown story in our own time. How many of us know people like Richard Rich, who are willing to sell their souls in order to be in the “in crowd”, a fellow traveler with the rich, the famous and the powerful? They can be found both in society and, sadly, within the Church. As Christians, we ought to examine our motives in all that we do. The only “ambition” worthy of a Christian is that which desires only one thing; to know, to love, and to serve God in this world with our very lives, so that we can be with him forever in the next. After all, Christians know that this life is but a temporary sojourn, and that Heaven is our ultimate goal. The things of this world will all fade away. Only the soul that gives its entire self humbly to God, can enter the only “royal court” worthy of our God-created souls.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.