By Kevin Cauley
“On the twenty-fifth of July, Sow your turnips, wet or dry.”
There may be a few among us that remember President Harry Truman. I am currently reading a biography about his life. While President Truman brought a swift end to the war with Japan and deftly handled United States foreign policy, Mr. Truman did not start off as a popular president domestically. In fact, half way through his first term the nation elected a republican congress to express their disapproval with his efforts. Four months before the 1948 election his approval rating was down to 36 percent. The republican candidate, New York governor Thomas Dewey, was considered a shoe in. But Truman wasn’t beat yet. He called a special session of congress during his democratic nomination acceptance speech calling for the congress to pass bills on social security, health care, and civil rights. They were to convene on the twenty-fifth of July, Turnip Day in Missouri. Dubbed the Turnip Congress, they failed to get the bills passed. Truman’s campaign speeches became highly critical of the do-nothing republican congress, and Truman, against all odds, was re-elected president in the fall.
The turnip congress was a complaining congress. They griped and complained about how poorly Truman was doing his job, but they failed to do anything better. Perhaps we ought to consider if we are a turnip Christian. Are we so preoccupied with the poor way that others are doing their jobs in the church that we fail to see our own failures and inabilities? Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without murmurings and questionings” and James 5:9 states, “Murmur not, brethren, one against another, that ye be not judged: behold, the judge standeth before the doors.” Where is our focus? If all we can see are the other guy s failings, without considering our own and without offering an alternative plan for improvement, then we may be a turnip Christian.
The turnip congress was a do-nothing congress. Truman really gave them an opportunity to shine in that fifteen-day session beginning July 26th, of 1948. If they had passed some legislation and done something, Truman would have been finished. Instead, they did nothing. Are we do-nothing Christians? Jesus said, “Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock” ( Matthew 7:24). James wrote, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves” ( James 1:22). As Christians we are not to sit idly by and wait on someone else to do our job. We must be willing to do it ourselves. If we cannot get busy and do what we have been called to do, then we may be a turnip Christian.
The turnip congress was a defeated congress. Not only did Truman win the Presidency in the fall, but the republican congress was kicked out and a democratic congress took it’s place. Are we destined to be defeated Christians? There’s a serious question to ponder. It reminds me of what Jesus said about the one talent man who did nothing with what he had. “Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.” ( Matthew 25:28-30). If we cannot find a way to use our abilities to serve the Lord profitably, then we may be a turnip Christian.
God wants us to be successful in our Christian walk. However, we must have the right attitude and make a modicum of effort in that walk. We have all the tools we need to do the job before us; we’ve been called by God into special session; now what will we do with it? Will we simply be a turnip Christian or will we work to accomplish God’s goals on earth through faithful service? May we all seek to be more than a mere turnip.