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Mason's Message

Change or Be Changed?

For years, I carried two pieces of paper in my Bible because of the special message they conveyed to me. Since they help me, maybe they will help you too.

The first is a bit of verse from the pen of Alexander Pope. It is from his Essay on Man, Epistle 1.

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen to oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

The second piece of paper I carried contains a message that is not too far off of what Pope said. This is a story that comes from the pen of Elie Wiesel.

“A just man comes to Sodom hoping to save the city. He pickets. What else can he do? He goes from street to street, from marketplace to marketplace, shouting, ‘Men and women, repent. What you are doing is wrong. It will kill you; it will destroy you.’ They laugh but he goes on shouting, until one day a child stops him.
“Poor stranger, don’t you see it’s useless?’
“’Yes,’ the just man replies.
“’Then why do you go on?’ the child asks.
“’In the beginning,’ he says, ‘I was convinced that I would change them, Now I go on shouting because I don’t want them to change me’.”

There is constant slippage that takes place all around us. At first we are alert and fight back, but then too often we get used to the surroundings and are engulfed by them. There are too many things that I do now as an adult that were wrong when I was a child. It makes me wonder what things will be like for my grandchildren.

Will the world be better because I passed this way? Will the world be better because you passed this way? Maybe we can’t change the entire world, but neither do we have to let it change us.

Paul said something about this when he said, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2).

This week do something to change the world and make it better…if you don’t try, the world might change you.

(This was first written for “The Madeira Beacon,” November 14, 1990)

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