Grant’s Tomb and the Words of God

"Get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding." – Proverbs 4:5

Recently I saw a movie called Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. There’s a modern remake, but I saw the 1936 version with Gary Cooper. Really good movie. I love romances, and this one was both humorous and insightful into human nature.

Anyway, at one point Gary Cooper, playing Longfellow Deeds, gets to see Grant’s Tomb for the first time in his life. The worldly-wise female reporter, who obviously was going to become the other half of the romance, says, “Well, there it is.” She clearly expects him to be disappointed, and she comments that most people are.

He then says, "Do you know what I see? I see an Ohio country boy who grows up to be a general in the United States Army. I see Lee surrendering to that Ohio boy. I see him standing and taking the oath to be president of the United States. That could only happen in a country as great as ours."

Grant's Tomb, public domain

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

It really wasn’t that moving of a scene, but it distinctly highlighted the difference that attitude can make.

I know people that are excited all the time about the Word of God. They are excited when they read the Bible. They are excited when they hear preaching and teaching. They are excited when people speak into their lives.

Free Gift

Here’s a little free gift that has nothing to do with today’s post: What’s the difference between preaching and teaching?

In modern parlance, nothing really. But in Scripture, there’s a very significant difference. For example, in 1 Tim. 2:7 and 2 Tim. 1:11 Paul describes himself as both a preacher and a teacher in the same sentence. If you look through the two words that are translated "preach" in most Bibles—euangelizo and kerusso—you’ll see that they are exclusively used of proclaiming the Gospel to the lost. Teaching, on the other hand, is for the church.

When we call a pastor a preacher, we lose the Scriptural distinction between a shepherd and an evangelist. Bad move, in my opinion.

The fact is, though, that we have already lost the distinction, and most pastors do very little actual shepherding, but instead are held responsible if the church isn’t growing! Hmm …

What’s even more amazing is that these people can listen to some pretty boring and occasionally rather shallow teaching and still be excited.

Why? Because the Word of God is the Word of God. It is the very life of a disciple. Thus, they happily sit through an hour of chopping rock to get one precious gem. (That’s supposed to be a mining analogy, which I point out just in case poor writing or my poor understanding of mining makes the analogy unclear.)

But how many of us struggle to find some time to read the Scriptures. How many of us sit through good or very good teaching, loaded with precious gems, yet complain because 50% of the teaching time was like chopping rock. Or worse, we complain if even 10% of the teaching time was a little slow.

We’re lazy people. We want the riches of God handed to us. We can find a YouTube video of some spectacular teacher, who never lets one minute of his sermon get boring. Why should we labor our way through the disorderly words of some lover of God who has to struggle to get his point across to us.

When Longfellow Deeds saw Grant’s Tomb, he didn’t see an unimpressive building. He saw an idea. He saw the sweat and labor of pioneers and soldiers.

It’s the exact same kind of thinking that makes the difference between a disciple, who is granted access to the treasures of God, and a member of an audience, who is happily entertained but for the most part granted access only to “strong delusion,” following the many in blissful ignorance of what Jesus said about what road the many travel on.

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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1 Response to Grant’s Tomb and the Words of God

  1. Amen, loved the part about Grant’s Tomb.I wish more Christians thought this possible of themselves. Grant wasn’t the brightest star to come out of West Point.However, he may have been the most tenacious. He sure backed Lee into a corner. He graduated 1st in his class. He was no slouch but we do see the outcome of giving one’s self wholeheartedly to the task at hand.

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