Saturday, March 4, 2017

The hopelessness of Jimmy Durante and the uniqueness of Christianity

Wikipedia's introduction in their entry abut American actor and comedian Jimmy Durante:
James Francis "Jimmy" Durante (February 10, 1893 – January 29, 1980) was an American singer, pianist, comedian, and actor. His distinctive clipped gravelly speech, New York accent, comic language-butchery, jazz-influenced songs, and prominent nose helped make him one of America's most familiar and popular personalities of the 1920s through the 1970s.
In that same essay, they mention Durante's famous closing words on his television program. His signoff became a national catchphrase. Durante used to say in the 5 second clip & screen shot from 1955,

Durante grew up in the Catholic Church. He was an altar boy. He was married in 1921 in the RCC, to Jean Olson. Olson died of heart failure after their 22 years of marriage. When Durante became famous on stage, radio, films and TV, his signoff grew more popular. Despite many lighthearted theories about what it could mean, Durante eventually revealed what it meant. After his beloved wife's death, Durante was single for almost 20 more years, but remarried in 1960. At a 1966 Press Club interview, Durante said that his signoff had been a tribute to his wife Jean, and explained where the Calabash part of it came from. When Durante died he received Catholic rites and a Catholic funeral.

One of the many unique things about Christianity is the surety of knowing we know God. We know doctrines. We know that when we pray, He hears us. We know that we have the Spirit in us. We know and understand the Bible's words, since the Spirit in us illuminates them to our mind.

We also know that the kingdom exists, and that we are going there. We KNOW. A Christian is sure that he is a son or daughter of God and is sure of where his ultimate destination lay. We also know that our former deeds done in sin were depraved and rightly would have been evidence enough to send us to hell.

I understand that sometimes a Christian might wonder about their salvation, and seek to examine himself, lest he fail the test. (2 Corinthians 13:5). He or she may also occasionally stumble, or his or her walk may become dry for short periods before being renewed afresh.

I'm not talking about those times. I'm talking about the underlying certainty of our salvation, when all's said and done. Reinforcing bar, rebar for short, is threaded in concrete foundation. We might not be able to see it but it's there. This strength, which is Jesus' Spirit, makes the whole structure strong. This surety becomes gem-like and brightly faceted when comparing to the doubt, fear, and uncertainty the unsaved person feels about "the other side".

Can you imagine having been raised in a church as Durante was, and having been at least minimally associated with it throughout your long life, and yet never having assurance of your ultimate destination? That is what false church and false doctrine does, never satisfied that fear nor ever gives certainty. 'Wherever you are'? Imagine being so unsure that you proclaim your uncertainty about eternity to a nationally attentive audience, every week?

The unique aspect of Christianity is this: we know the other side:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

We have the hope!

My friend Pastor James Bell posted the following on Facebook this morning. I don't think the person mentioned is related to him, the spelling of 'Savior' is the UK version, but still, the person mentioned KNEW where he was going.
PAGE ONE of the Last Will and Testament of my dear wife’s father: "I, Robert B. Baker, having received the Lord Jesus Christ into my heart as my personal Saviour and Lord, fully confident His atoning blood took away my sins and assured by the Holy Scriptures that I will live eternally in His presence, do hereby bequeath my material possessions to those who are dearest to my heart and with my fervent prayer that they too may know the joy and contentment that comes from knowing the Lord Jesus Christ personally, that the eternal shall always be more important than the temporal, and that the Bible should be the standard for all of life’s conduct. To all who read or know of this will, let it be remembered Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. May God bless you as He molds, and shapes you unto His service."
The deceased Mr Baker was concerned with souls.

Therein is the difference. The saved press on toward the goal. (Philippians 3:14). We strive, walk, and at times, even hurtle joyously toward the veil. Through death we pass into life. However, the unsaved resist, turn away, and oppose the inexorable forward motion that brings all life brings to the brink of the inevitable abyss. They do not care to peer beyond. They shut their eyes as blind ones leading each other. They clutch what they have, unable to hope in something more permanent.

Last Sunday at church service we experienced some dramatic and traumatic events. I won't go into many details, but a young woman, recently married, collapsed in the pew and they lost her pulse several times during the course of an 8-minute CPR marathon before the EMTs arrived. When the EMTs arrived they applied the paddles to her heart and laid her on a stretcher and took her to the hospital. During the event and afterward we all remained still and prayed quietly in our spots. Occasionally someone would break into an a Capella hymn. Soon after we received the joyful news that she had revived and was conscious and capable.

During the event, our pastor said that she had been regenerated a year or two prior and he had the pleasure of watching from close range her wonderful growth in Christ. He said that as much as possible as it is to know on this side of the veil, she was saved because she bore fruit and her affections were all oriented to holiness & Christ. It was a solace. It was a comfort to hear that. If you have had the traumatic experience of seeing the very breath of life suddenly taken from a loved one's nostrils, you do become grief stricken, but we do not grieve as though we have no hope, as the Thessalonians verse says.

Of those who have no hope, they wonder. And you say, "Good Night, Mrs Calabash, wherever you are."

Share the Blessed Hope hope today with someone.

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