T.E. Lawrence was one of the more fascinating and controversial figures of the previous century. While there is still a healthy, ongoing debate aimed at separating the man from the myth, we are sure of certain things. We know he was a gifted writer of books and letters. He published a translation of Homer’s Odyssey. We know in 1921 he was called upon by Winston Churchill to help bring order to the chaos of the post-war Middle East. (Churchill would later speak of Lawrence as one of “two or three of the very best men it has ever been my fortune to work with”). According to David Fromkin, Lawrence was responsible for helping Churchill reform Britain’s imperialistic policies and establish self-rule in what is now Jordan and Iraq.
Lawrence was also a British liaison officer who worked with the Arab rebels in World War I and was instrumental in aiding their fight against the Turks. This is depicted in the movie, Lawrence of Arabia.
In the movie, there is a scene where Lawrence’s commander tells him the British are headed toward Damascus and they need the help of the rebels in capturing the city. He offers to supply him with money which Lawrence can in turn use to induce the Arabs to fight. Lawrence tells him he’ll take the money but still, “The best of them won’t come for money. They’ll come for me.”
The words of an egotist? Maybe, but perhaps there was something more. Maybe in his words there is the recognition that the best things are done for the highest of reasons. Maybe Lawrence understood (as good leaders do), that in our better moments we not only want but need to do things for bigger, deeper reasons than self-interest or personal agendas.
The truth is, we were made for something more. We were made for something that cannot be held in our hands or calculated on a spreadsheet. And we’ll follow whoever recognizes this truth and calls for it from us—even if they are not worthy of being followed. That’s why history is chock full of people following leaders who were nothing more than wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing. Our desire to live for something beyond ourselves is so strong that it can overwhelm our discernment. We know deep inside that we were created for something more and that whatever else life is, it is more than a weekend and a paycheck. We were created for something noble! (I don’t mean to suggest that what we do in providing for ourselves and others is not noble, it is. I’m simply recognizing that we aspire to more). Lawrence called the rebels to something higher. He earned their trust through his actions and was worthy of being followed. And they followed for reasons of love and loyalty, not money.
Isn’t that the way Christians should feel about the Christ? We’ll do what we do not because someone has browbeaten or manipulated us into it, or because it’s a church program, or for any number of other reasons, we’ll do it because of Him! He’s earned our trust and is worthy of our following.
“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:
‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!’” (Revelation 5:10-11).
In a world of choices, there is but One who is worthy.