Winston Churchill; A Flawed Man Who Saved a Nation
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
1st Timothy [1:15]
Winston Churchill would commonly wake up late in the morning. And many days start off with a stiff drink. Usually gruff to the staff and he had a tendency to lose his temper. Many days he smoked four or more cigars, had a bottle of Champagne, and drank Scotch late into the night. His language could be crude, and he could anger easily.
His political and military record was spotted with questionable decisions. He convinced a future king to marry a commoner, which eliminated any chance for the person to become king. During World War 1, his decision to outflank the Turks cost twenty-five thousand lives in Gallipoli. His decision in 1925 to return the British currency to the Gold Standard of valuation helped put the United kingdom into a depression. He also believed in the superiority of the British people, which led to him having an Imperialistic view of the British colonies.
Churchill was a very complicated person, with many flaws. Even today, many will argue his weaknesses. Especially in our current times of judging people solely on their weaknesses. Recently, in London, his statue was vandalized, and word racist was inscribed on his statue.
There is another side to Churchill than just his weaknesses. He had a very rare human quality of being able to stay principled when others pressed for quick solutions. He stood up when others chose to sit down. Churchill through a mixture of luck and have no one else to pick, became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in May 1940. A difficult time in history, with the Nazi’s invading many Western European countries. In fact, at the exact time, he was made Prime Minister, the entire British army was trapped on the coast of France by the Nazis. As the Nazi’s took over country after country, the British Army was pushed to the sea near Dunkirk, France. Three hundred thousand soldiers looking at certain death or imprisonment.
Most of the politicians who had placed this army in this precarious position insisted that Churchill negotiate a peace deal with Hitler. Churchill said, no! He knew full well that any deal with Hitler would not be honored. Churchill also knew that the British people would rather fight than surrender. Churchill spent days convincing the politicians they were wrong, and eventually, King Edward agreed. Later, Churchill finally received the full support of the government through a rousing speech in Parliament. Any peace deal with Hitler was off the table and the United Kingdom then stood alone against tyranny.
Churchill also pushed the military to not give up on the soldiers trapped in Dunkirk. Inspiring local fishermen and sailors to use their boats to sail to Dunkirk to rescue the trapped army. In a valiant moved called Operation Dynamo; almost nine hundred civilian boats went to Dunkirk and brought home the army. While the military leaders stood by with no offer of help, Churchill inspired a nation to go get the army.
Behind Churchill stood the British people, bravely standing up to a vicious and evil force intent on taking over the United Kingdom and the world. When there was no one left to stand up to Hitler, Churchill and the British people stood alone. The United States scarred by World War 1, desired to stay neutral. This was only the beginning of the difficult days that laid ahead.
Churchill navigated his country through the Battle of Britain, where night after night cities were bombed. He helped his country get through the Battle of the Atlantic when German U boats sought to sink merchant ships delivering desperately needed food and supplies. He encouraged his scientist to develop a radar system that helped the British air force defend their country.
He mobilized the people through speeches of encouragement. He convinced C.S. Lewis to go on the radio each night and offer hope to the British people. People rallied around him because he could get the best out of people and his bravado saved Britain. Today’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson recently said; he saved this country — and the whole of Europe — from fascist and racist tyranny.”
Five years after those dark days and many more difficult situations, the Nazi’s were defeated, and the United Kingdom survived. That July Churchill was voted out of office.
In today’s verse, Paul called himself the Chief of all sinners. But Paul was the great leader who propelled Christianity from the backwaters of Judea to an international faith. Today, his skillfully worded prose, is as meaningful to us, as they were to those from the past. Surely this great advocator for Jesus, Paul, was a good and honorable person. Yet he stilled claimed he was the Chief Sinner. And It is true that Paul could at times be very arrogant and other times less than tolerable. And these actions embarrassed Paul, which is why he called himself the Chief Sinner.
Each of us has had regrettable moments, some of us more than others. However, If we turn to evaluate people exclusively by their weaknesses, the world will not be a better place. For all would be banished. Churchill wouldn’t have saved Europe, nor Paul emerges as one of the great leaders of Christianity.
Humankind is very complicated and judgment that comes to easy will eventually sink us. Jesus died on a cross for a reason. To end the judgment of our sin and we became redeemed. Perhaps forgiveness can be a new fashionable way of life. I certainly know that this is what Jesus would want.
There will always be a clucking Nay-Sayers, who seek to destroy. Forgetting where the world be without Churchill and Paul. And Jesus wants us to be forgivers and not judges. Jesus knows our frailties but also knows our capacity to do far more good.
I pray for the day when we look for the good in people and not just at the bad…
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman