This photograph is a picture perfect example of two types representing Law and Grace.
Richard Milhous Nixon lived much of his life running from a poor childhood. He wanted to prove to the world that he mattered.
When he became President of the United States, from the moment he stepped into the Oval Office he set up an Enemies List. He was so afraid of losing power, he was so paranoid about challenges to his authority.
Richard Nixon represents the Law, as well as someone trying to live by the precepts of the law. He may have said and done all the right things to get to the top, but at the same time he had to use all of his strength and effort to stay in power.
In stark and blessed contrast, there is Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. This man was blessed with a gift to sing. On account reports that he was moved to lay hands on one of his backup singers when he was still working as a truck driver and singing on the side. He came from a charismatic/Pentecostal background, a denomination of the Christian faith which does not despise the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In many ways, Elvis was charismatic, flowing in the gifts. Without force of threat, he commanded respect, driving women crazy with love while appealing to all walks of life.
In case you have not yet realized it, Elvis represents Grace, and someone who let's God's grace grow in his life. Presidents have to persuade others to elect them. Kings are born into their royal bearing, receiving it as a gift which defines who they are. Just like Jesus, the first-born of many brethren, so everyone who believes on Him is born-again, brought into a new family, to live and reign in life as kings.
The circumstances, or the God-designed event, which led to the meeting between the most powerful man in the world and the King of the charts, are another telling example of how grace works in the lives of those who believe.
Elvis Presley loved to collect law enforcement badges. It was something that he was moved to do. One evening, he decided that he wanted one from the President of the United States. At the last minute, he boarded a red eye flight to Washington D.C., and while on the flight he wrote a letter to the President, expressing his admiration and respect for the leader. He also shared how he wanted to join the ranks of federal law enforcement and bring an end to the drug trade that was taking off in the United States.
Within the day, Presley was permitted a private audience with President Richard Nixon. Secret Service Agents met the King of Rock and Roll by the Back Lawn of the White House, the same scene which tourists and history students see in their textbooks. Within the hour, Presley and Nixon were talking, shaking hands, talking. Presley then indicated that he wanted a federal Drug Enforcement badge, which he received. As a gift to the President, Presley gave him a pair of cuff-links.
The novelty and nobility of the event moved photographers on the spot to take pictures of this unique encounter, including the photograph posted at the top of this post. In another photo, intriguingly enough, the President is admiring Elvis' cuff links. It was clear that the President was more in awe of the King, than the other way around.
This picture meant so much to me, so fine and compelling and allegory of Law and Grace, that I cut in out of an issue of Smithsonian Magazine, which provided a report of this account. Elvis believed, trusting in the grace that was given to him, that all he had to do was ask and he got what he wanted. Like Elvis Presley, every believer in the Body of Christ is a king with royal access to the King of Kings. In time of need, we can ask Him for anything, and by grace through faith He reaches into our lives and leads us as He sees fit.
The world does not work that way. In the ways of the world, men are expected to fight for everything. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and at every turn a man must look over his shoulder and beware lest someone try to take what he fought to so hard to attain. Richard Nixon fought his way to the top. For those of us who choose to live by grace, we do not strive and writhe in our own efforts. Instead, we trust in the grace of God to infuse us with His wisdom and skill, that by trusting Him, we will obtain the unmerited favor that we seek to reign in life. Elvis played and enjoyed his way at the top, and he never had to worry about someone else trying to take his place, because the whole time it was God who brought him there.
So, who do you want to be? You want to be esteemed in the eyes of the world, always nervous, never resting, fearful of losing what you have worked to hard to get? Or are you willing to cease from your own works, rest in your righteous standing before God as a son, and live life like a king, coasting in His grace?
As for me, I would rather be the king which Christ has made me to be!
While Nixon had his Enemies List, Elvis had the Top Ten all to himself.