A friend introduced me to a man who was the Agent for several well-known singers and Rock Bands. I will not mention the correct names but think, The Eagles, Bono or Paul McCartney, and you understand the type of clients he has. We thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company, and it was one of those situations where we both liked each other immediately, so we began to meet weekly for lunch.
Our conversations were enjoyable and full of interesting subjects but after several weeks, one of our lunches took us to a new level. As often happens, we eventually focused on one topic. This day, it started with something we had both heard on the news. It was a survey asking people what they thought were the most significant problems facing our nation. The following is a very abbreviated version of the conversation that followed.
“I asked, how would you have answered that question? What do you think are the most serious problems that our country faces?
He said I would have a hard time choosing just one because there are so many that are damaging our country. Take your pick, crime, drugs, racial tension, political corruption, or a dozen other things, and now we have terrorism.
I replied, you’re right, we’ve had a war on drugs, passed civil rights legislation and the three strike law for crime, but they continue to be major problems. I think of each of those as a symptom of an underlying cause that we are failing to address. When the body has an abnormally high temperature, we try to reduce it but realize that it is a symptom of something going on internally. It’s just alerting us to find out what caused it.
He answered; I guess you’re right; all problems are caused by something.
Terrorism is caused by religious intolerance, and I’m pretty sure that each of society’s other problems are also symptoms of deeper issues. If that’s true, I wonder if it’s possible that there could be a common cause? What do you think?
He said, maybe it’s because the morality of the country is deteriorating, I know it’s changed since I was a kid. I told you about my partner who ripped me off for more than a million dollars, and just two weeks ago, my daughter had her bicycle stolen from our front porch.
What do you think caused such a general breakdown of our morals?
I don’t know; maybe it’s because there’s so much corruption among our leaders in business and politics.
Do you think corporations or politics are the problem or is it the character of the individuals involved.
I see what you’re getting at; of course, it’s the individual person who has a moral breakdown.
If personal morality is the issue, who do you think is the greatest moral authority and teacher who ever lived?
I’m sure it was probably Jesus.
Do you know much about what He taught?
No, I went to church when I was a kid, but never got too interested in religion.
You know that’s my background too, but I was challenged some years ago to re-evaluate my ideas about spiritual things, and I’m so glad I did. I started to read the Bible for myself and started with the part that was written by the best friend of Jesus. In fact, why don’t you and I read it together? We could read one chapter a week, then get together, and discuss it. Would you be interested in that?
Yes, I think so, but I’m not interested in being pressured to believe a religious dogma.
John, you can be sure I won’t do that, I respect you, and enjoy our friendship too much to allow any barrier to come between us. How about if we meet for breakfast every Thursday morning for 5 or 6 weeks. We already enjoy being together, so this should be fun. I’ll get you a small copy of the book of John in modern day English. We can each read the first chapter, and we’ll talk about it.
Okay, let’s do it.”
We met weekly for about a year and a half, and his wife gave her life to Jesus, but my friend never did. He was too invested in New Age spirituality. In fact, on the wall of his office, he had pictures in a semi-circle of seven “Avatars.” Avatar comes from the Hindu religion and means, “a Savior,” that is a person who saves or rescues mankind. He had the pictures of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and five others, plus Jesus. He did tell me that if he ever chose a personal Avatar, he would choose Jesus. That was encouraging, but in my judgment, he failed to understand or maybe refused to acknowledge the deity of Jesus.
After a couple of years, he moved to another area, so sadly, I don’t see him anymore. I really liked him and would even say I loved him, so I still pray that he will someday come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
A fascinating anecdote from our time together.
As our friendship developed, we shared numerous stories about our lives. One of the most interesting about his life is about a meeting he and one of his clients had with Anwar Sadat, the President of Egypt. You may remember that President, Sadat led Egypt in an attack on Israel. It was called the Yom Kippur War, but Egypt was devastatingly defeated by Israel. Three years later, President Sadat humbled himself and visited Israel and spoke to the Knesset. Secretary-General of the Knesset, Netanel Lorch, an acquaintance of mine arranged that visit. He told me that it was the high point of his life. Then they engaged in negotiations, that led to the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. That won Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin the Nobel Peace Prize which made Sadat the first Muslim Nobel laureate.
Then in 1980, John and his high profile client met with President Sadat and became captivated by his vision for peace in the Middle East. However, you may remember that in 1981, President Sadat was assassinated by Islamic fundamentalist army officers. The memory of that meeting stayed with them, so John and his friend talked about it often.
Twenty years later they decided to honor his vision for peace by completing it. They had a number of ideas, and one of them crystallized during the time that I knew him, so I got to know about it intimately. They were motivated by the idea of peace, and they chose the method to accomplish it, by remembering the success of two of their friends. Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote a song in 1985 called, “We are the World.” Participants on the recording were forty-five of America’s top musicians. It sold more than twenty million copies and received rave reviews around the world. The memory of how that song brought people together became the model for their world peace plan. John and his client bought one hundred and sixty acres of beautiful land, hired an architect and began planning, the “World Peace Center.” Their intent was to produce a multitude of audio, video, and written projects by the entire entertainment industry. As we met week by week, I got an update on the progress of the architectural plans. Additionally, I got to hear the names of the most famous artists, writers and producers in the music industry who had volunteered to donate their time and talent to make videos and CD’s promoting peace. This was going to be a very very large project with a ton of buy-in from financial people as well as the most talented performers in the world.
Week by week I was anxious to hear the latest developments. Then one Thursday morning at breakfast, it all changed. John said, “we decided to sell the property.” I was shocked so asked what happened to make you change your mind when so much progress has been accomplished? He then told me about a conversation he’d had the past weekend. I knew that his client picked him up with his Lear Jet from time to time and they would spend the weekend together. So he told me about his most recent fight to Vail Colorado for a ski weekend. After several runs, they were sitting in the warming hut at the top of the mountain discussing the project. All of a sudden John had a very profound thought and shared it with his friend. He said, “you don’t have any peace, and I don’t have any peace, how are we going to bring peace to the world?” And the dream died. That sounds like something a religious person might say to them, but John received that message internally. You and I know where that came from. They were working on peace between peoples of the world and were confronted with the lack of personal inner peace.
Then for several months afterward, I was allowed to read letters from his client. One of them was nine pages long. They were about his quest to find peace and the various places he had tried to find it. He talked about two books he had read and mentioned several retreats and conferences by new age gurus. However, after each one he concluded, they don’t have the answer. Then his client died unexpectedly at fifty-three years of age. It was in a tragic accident about a year or two after the dream died. I know that he was earnestly searching for inner peace, but I don’t know if he was searching for God with his whole heart. But if he was, I am confident the Lord would have revealed Himself to him before he died. We have that confirmed by Scripture.
“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NLT”)
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 ESV)
The purpose for sharing these conversations was simply to tell the story of two men as they grappled with heart issues.