The Rifleman. I’m watching it on Amazon Prime and is presented for Amazon by FilmRise.
Originally filmed for television in 1958, it stars Chuck Conners as Lukas McCain, a tall, lanky, tough, and strongly moral single father of a young son named Mark. They’re starting their life over again after the death of Luke’s wife and Mark’s mother.
They’ve moved west, as so many did in the mid and late 1800’s, settling in a town called North Fork. McCain is a loving father who’s always honorable and watching out for his young son Mark.
In the second episode that first aired on October 7, 1958, Lukas and Mark have just purchased the “old Douglas place;” a 4,100-acre ranch with a small home and barn. But a local big-time rancher has been illegally using the ranch to graze his own cattle on.
That big-time rancher sends two of his cowboys to tell McCain and his son to get off the land they’d just purchased. Lukas refuses, and the two men take his rifle and burn down the small home on the ranch.
Mark is simply devastated by their home being burned down and exclaims, “Looks to me like the Lord’s dead set against us having a place!”
What happens next is wonderful! Lukas tells the story of Job. Obviously, his version of Job’s life is a bit different than what’s revealed in the Bible, but McCain’s version is almost spot-on.
Between Mark’s mention of “the Lord,” and Luke’s story of Job, I began to think.
“Just how far away from the Christian values upon which our nation was founded we have fallen,” I sadly said to myself. In the short sixty years since this second episode aired Christianity, the true ground of truth upon which America was founded, has been yanked from beneath it.
Now we seem to be attempting to shore up the empty space with the humanistic error that man can exist apart from God and truth will flow from humankind. This humanistic view has brought only arbitrary law to our great nation and the terrible-twin-values of personal autonomy and personal affluence.
Think of it! Only sixty years ago Hollywood was producing shows that not only referred to our Lord but told stories and quoted passages from the Bible! Today, even mentioning Jesus name or of the Bible will bring a host of hateful attacks upon you. Hollywood won’t even hint of anything Christian at all.
First of all, it shocks me just how quickly a nation can turn from one set of values to a completely different set of values, values that are not really values at all. True values are based on something authoritative outside of one’s self.
Second, it set me to thinking about how we can make a difference in this country that’s so quickly changed. Then it came to me.
Love. Paul said, “The love of Christ constrains me…”. As we allow Christ’s love to control us and direct us, our influence upon our culture, an influence lost by the few generations immediately prior to ours, can return to being a positive one.
But only with love can this happen!
Will I be loving in every case with everyone?