“Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.” ~ Thomas Huxley
There’s an intriguing line in this great classic when Charles speaks of: “Georgia, no peace I find.”
You see, for a time, it was only “an old sweet song” that kept Georgia on his mind.
Charles had no peace, because for many years, he wasn’t welcome in his home state.
The same was true for Jesus.
Great as they both were, neither man was welcome in the very place from which they came. The vision of each was unseen by those closest to them.
And maybe in looking at this analogy, there’s a lesson for us all.
It was in 1961, not long after Charles released the classic hit that he was scheduled to perform for a dance at Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Ga. Charles cancelled the performance, however, after learning the dance floor would be restricted to “whites only,” while blacks could only sit in the balcony.
He was taking a profound stand on the difference between right and wrong.
The promoter sued Charles for a breach of contract and, thereafter, he was banned from performing in Georgia for many years.
And it crushed his soul.
It happened to Jesus, too.
Shortly after Jesus had given his first set of teachings recorded in the New Testament, Luke says Jesus gave a reading of the scripture that claimed he was the fulfilment of prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-2. The crowd in Nazareth, the town of his birth, questioned the origin of his teachings and criticized him for being a lowly carpenter’s son.
Matthew records the result: Jesus chose not to do miracles there because of their lack of faith. His own people had rejected him. And it was hurtful.
So here’s the good news for both, and perhaps for you and me.
In 1979 the Georgia General Assembly, righting its wrong, made a formal apology to Charles and made “Georgia on My Mind” the official state song. Charles followed with an emotional performance of the song on the legislative floor.
At that moment, I believe he found his peace.
Jesus went on to gather 12 ordinary men and take them under his wing. He molded, shaped and formed them into what would become the very beginning of the church and told them to take the good news of the gospel to the world. And because of that today, we all share in the freedom to call Jesus Son of the Most High.
When we accept and place our faith in him today, it is the greatest transaction possible.
So, what’s the lesson for me and you?
If we find ourselves an outcast at a certain moment and place in time, really big things may be just ahead.
I’m counting on that.