The U.S.A. was founded with a healthy dose of “can do.” Pilgrims sailing across the ocean. Venturesome pioneers exploring the horizon to the West, discovering territories previously unseen by non-native Americans. During the Industrial Revolution, enterprising entrepreneurs embodying the virtues of “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.”
|The Lone Ranger and Tonto,|
a team of the 1950s.
Yes, we’ve prided ourselves in our self-sufficiency. From 1952 to 1954, TV even offered a “poster child” for this independent attitude: “The Lone Ranger.” The mysterious masked man would ride into town on his white horse, Silver, accompanied by his faithful companion, Tonto, and discern what problems were plaguing the local citizenry. He’d deftly dispose of the bad guys and then, without fanfare, ride off into the sunset with a mighty “Hi-yo, Silver, away!”
The local folks were left behind, scratching their heads and wondering, “Who was that masked man?”
In July, we’ll get a fresh look when a new “Lone Ranger” movie premieres, starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp. I have a suspicion “ke-mo sah-bee” will never be the same!
American culture being as strong as it is, this lone ranger mindset infiltrated every aspect of daily life, including spirituality. For decades churches have produced “lone ranger” believers showing up from time to time for worship services, professing to be devout in their faith, but having little ongoing connection with other followers of Jesus Christ.
This is not how the so-called “Christian life” is to be lived.
In John 15:5, Jesus declared, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Paul the apostle affirmed that when he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
A major distinction between Christianity and other belief systems is that through His Spirit, God can empower believers to live as He calls them to live.
But there’s another dimension to this reality. Jesus’ followers aren’t to live in isolation – they need one another. Many passages underscore the importance of strength in numbers.
For instance, Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” And Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 points out, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!... A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
The apostle Paul also offered a model for carrying out Christ’s Great Commission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Paul instructed Timothy, the man he was mentoring, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Have you ever wondered, with various studies showing a large portion of Americans believe in God and the Bible, even claiming to be followers of Christ, why is our nation in such moral and ethical chaos?
That question has no simple answers. But “lone ranger thinking” is a significant contributor. Through the years I’ve been fortunate to have many people, men and women, who invested in my life in various ways. And I’m striving to “pay it forward” by investing in others through personal mentoring and teaching. We can't do it alone.