For Unity

I appreciate what RZIM’s J.M. Njoroge says in today’s “Slice of Infinity” about the way “we squander valuable benefits of dedicated teamwork within the household of faith,” and thereby “lose our edge in a broken world.”

He says, “In spite of the fact that Jesus prayed fervently for unity among his followers, the visible church is often a conglomeration of competing factions, each equally convinced of its solitary possession of divine favor. Those who seek signs and wonders through the Holy Spirit are usually suspicious of those who emphasize exegetical approaches to the Scriptures. Christian scholars are sometimes content just to talk to each other, and the uncanny tendency of apologists to sniff out what they deem rotten doctrine is not always appreciated.”

Read the whole article at http://www.rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/for-unity/

Concluding a sermon in 1941 entitled “The Weight of Glory”, C.S. Lewis said:

“Meanwile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning. A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside. The following Him is, of course, the essential point. That being so, it may be asked what practical use there is in the speculations which I have been indulging. I can think of at least one such use. It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat [truly hides]- the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”

From The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses, C.S. Lewis.

Understanding Each Other

Last evening Lynda and I had the privilege of hearing Ryan Longnecker, (intern working with Bethany’s high schoolers) speak on post-modernism and the emerging church. One of several significant points he made was a quote from his room-mate’s dad.

You can’t even say you disagree with someone unless you can state their side in terms they agree with.

What a simple, yet profoundly important statement! All too often we insist on our own definitions of what others think – as if we are better qualified to tell them what they are “really” thinking and what they believe than they are. But then it actually takes work to listen without latching onto part of a statement and occupying our mind at building a rebuttal rather than hearing the rest of what is being said. We want to be ready to jump in at a pause to speak our mind – not ready to let what has been said sink in. Silence in a conversation? Egad! How scary! We may never get a chance to express the most important side (ours). We need to get away from the fear of silence in a conversation and train ourselves, individually and as groups, to allow time to consider and digest what has been said so that we make sure we are understanding it. But we are not comfortable with silence. We feel that something is wrong – that everyone is at a loss for words, and we have to fill the time with something. We need, we must, get over that and really think about what is being said! We need to be sure we accurately understand before we let our minds work the pros and cons.

Chronological Snobbery

“…what I have called ‘chronological snobbery,’ the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also ‘a period,’ and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.”

C.S. Lewis, Surprised By Joy

Holy Spirit and Prayer – What difference do they make?

I’ve been re-reading, after several decades, Edith Schaeffer’s L’Abri in which she quotes her husband Francis Schaeffer. “Supposing we had awakened today to find everything concerning the Holy Spirit and prayer removed from the Bible-that is, not removed the way liberals would remove it, but that God had somehow really removed everything about prayer and the Holy Spirit from the Bible. What difference would it make practically between the way we worked yesterday and the way we work today, and tomorrow? What difference would it make to the majority of Christians’ practical work and plans? Aren’t most plans laid out ahead of time? Isn’t much work done by human talent, energy and clever ideas? Where does the supernatural power of God have a real place?”

Very good question! How are we living as believers in the God of the Bible that is any different from the way an agnostic or atheist lives?

I’m afraid I find myself most consistently living as a practical atheist.

Lord, make my life a demonstration that You, the Personal-Infinite God are really there.