In the movie “Gladiator,” there is a scene where Maximus is about to lead his army into battle. While challenging his men, he says, “Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.”
For a moment, allow that thought to resonate in the depths of your mind. What we do in this life will echo throughout eternity.
So, when this life is over how do you want to be remembered? How do I want to be remembered?
We are focusing on legacy. Simply stated, we are writing our story every day, and the truth is, it matters. It matters to God, and it matters to the betterment of God’s creation.
Now, most normal human beings want to leave something worthwhile as they depart from this world. But, in reality, only a fraction of people in any one generation will leave anything that will long be remembered even by a small community, much less the world.
Take music, for instance. Of all the musicians in the world-both performers and composers-only a fraction of them are well known. And only a very small number of them will leave a lasting impression on the world of music. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Hayden and a few other greats have left legacies that are likely to remain indefinitely. But most of the millions of other music students will not leave any musical legacy to future generations.
The same is true for writers and preachers as well. How we preachers would like to have our sermons remembered after we are gone by an impoverished world. Simply won’t happen.
In my earlier days at Sunday lunch, I would ask my family what I had preached about that morning (an hour earlier). The family would all sit with blank stares. Finally, one of my children might say, “Did you say ... ?” or “I think you said.” On the grounds of self-incrimination I stopped doing that exercise.
At any rate, most of our sermons deal with a specific time and situation and will not be remembered. And that’s not good or bad — just normal.
However, most of us desire to leave a legacy anyway. What then can we leave?
I believe we can take our cue from Jesus. Why? Because it is his legacy to humankind that overshadows and dwarfs all other combined legacies of humankind. And his legacy is not a marble statue or anything like that but a loving active force.
Needless to say, Jesus’s legacy reflects his life. It was a legacy of love, and it cost him his life.
Many of us would say we revere Mother Teresa. She wasn’t macho, and she wasn’t even successful. In spite of her many years of dedicated ministry, people still die in poverty in Calcutta. But even after her death, Mother Teresa is admired, respected and revered. The reason is her legacy of love.
What Jesus left for us is the love of the Father. I’m talking about the forgiving love that will stand forever in a world of prejudice and hatred. I’m talking about a legacy that values highly the godly nature of our relationships with our fellow human beings. And I’m talking about a love that often stands alone in the desolate battlefields of evil and loves anyway.
Pastor Charles Merrill Smith, in a book he wrote, tells of the money raised, the buildings built, the meetings attended, and all the rest. Then he says, “But in the final assessment of a minister’s life, the only real monument he/she leaves is the touch left upon another human life.”
And that is true not only of a minister but for all of us. A loving legacy is about loving God and respecting and valuing other people.