Goodyear. Rockefeller. Pulitzer. Vanderbilt. Morgan. Macy. Gould. Crane. Astor. These celebrated millionaires represented only the most highly visible names from the membership rolls of the powerful Jekyll Island Club.
In 1886 some of the East Coast's most prominent millionaires pur chased a coastal island near Georgia for a hunting preserve and winter family retreat. By the early 1900s, members had informally linked to gether to form one of the most powerful, wealthy, and influential earthly kingdoms ever known.
Members of the exclusive, clannish Jekyll Island Club controlled one-sixth of the world's wealth, forging together an alliance that virtually controlled America's corporations and government—the railroads, the banks, the industrial complex, the significant inventions. To understand how vast this power was, consider these examples: In the early 1900s, J. P. Morgan twice financed the teetering United States government, staving off federal bankruptcy. On another occasion, at a clandestine meeting in one of the elegant private rooms at the secluded Jeykll Island Clubhouse, top government officials hammered out the first draft of the Federal Reserve Act.
The first transcontinental telephone call was initiated from the Jekyll Island Clubhouse to President Woodrow Wilson in Washington and Alexander Graham Bell in New York. The concentration of power at the Jekyll Island Club represented the zenith to which men can orchestrate temporal kingdoms.
Today, the Jekyll Island Club is history. Curious visitors, like our family, wander among a half-dozen restored buildings scattered around the grounds. The overgrowth of weeds, the peeling paint, the shattered glass—all symbols of the futility of man-made kingdoms. Except those restored for tourists, the posh winter "cottages" lay in ruin, betraying the brief standing given to the temporal kingdoms of man.
Though they once commanded one-sixth of the world's wealth, these power brokers have two things in common with every other man of their era: All their plans have come and gone, and they are all dead. "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
All the benefits of prosperity are temporal. All the risks of prosper ity are eternal. No matter how affluent and influential we become in the prosperous, material world, we will not find eternal profit from temporal kingdoms.
Despite all our prosperity, we must still come daily to the foot of the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ to inherit an eternal kingdom. That is why the first supplication that Jesus taught us, His disciples, was, "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Tread lightly in temporal kingdoms, for all our plans will come to an end, and then we die. The only profit that matters is an eternal one.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come in my life, Your will be done in my life, here and now, on earth, as it is in heaven. I surrender to You the temporal kingdom I have been build ing. Give me, I pray, the eternal kingdom. Amen.
(1st devotion from Devotions for the Man in the Mirror, which I'm updating for the 25th anniversary edition Zondervan will publish in December)
Until every church disciples every man….