Half-hearted Creatures

I talk a good deal about the importance of the resurrection to the Christian faith. Typically, this comes off as some hare-brained attempt to advocate social justice or inadvertently support global warming, which is so unfortunate. I struggle to enunciate exactly why I think this is so important, even though the thought of it on certain days sink down into my soul so thoroughly that I fight tears. So, for a brief moment, allow me to use someone else’s words:

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. – C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”

This was my first real encounter with resurrection theology, and while I didn’t realize it at the time, this notion has become one of the most foundational concepts in my faith. I do not want to be a half-hearted creature! And I genuinely believe that only way to live a full and rich kind of faith is to see the resurrection of Christ as the focal point to, well, everything.

As someone who struggles with traditional church, and mindless institutions (collegiate or otherwise), the resurrection screams to me that we cannot, we must not, go quietly along simply because “this is the way it’s done.” My response to that? “Dead men don’t rise from the grave!

We’re working through a series on Saints right now over at the College House, and in some ways this is simply revisiting what I’ve already taught to my juniors and seniors during the school year, but it never ceases to amaze me how God’s Truth runs right smack dab through the middle of everything, and the resurrection of Christ is no exception. So many of the Saints who stand out in the twenty centuries of Church History do so because their faith, anchored in the same sentiment that Lewis enunciates so clearly, causes them to live a life totally different from everyone around them. I think of Watchman Nee and Dietrich Bonheoffer, men who reflected Christ even as they died in such unjust circumstances, and I pause: “how will the resurrection change me? will people see that truth in my life?

It’s a powerful question. Father, help me to live it well.

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Surrender

 

Kenny once said that to surrender is to run out of ammo. Rather profound, that is. And since I heard him say that, that has been my view on surrendering to God. People, myself included, can’t really surrender unless we have nothing left to fight with.

Recently though, I’ve been giving some thought to that. Something C.S. Lewis wrote made me start to wonder if there was another type of surrender; a surrender that doesn’t require a fight at all. The answer seemed obvious: of course there was. The only problem was I couldn’t think of any examples of gentle surrender. The fighting surrender was all I could call to mind.

Then, this morning, I was puttering around the house and I remembered a Sarah McLachlan song that said something about surrender:

Oh, it doesn’t mean much
It doesn’t mean anything at all
The life I’ve left behind me
Is a cold room
I’ve crossed the last line
From where I can’t return

Sweet surrender
Is all that I have to give to you

You can see the song in its entirety here. Although she’s singing about lovers, the concept remains the same in many ways. When two people get married, life is a complete surrender to each other. If one person surrenders more than the other, things get all off kilter. This kind of surrender requires a balance. And the surrender must quickly be complete. I think that’s what the whole "one flesh" thing is all about.

So as I think about all this, I start to call to mind my best friend, who is the most stubborn and willful soul I have ever known, and yet he is the quintessential picture of what it means to surrender to someone you love.

The thing is, God has already done his part. His Son walked this earth and surrendered to everyone He encountered. He surrendered His life for all mankind, including us today. Already, the relationship isn’t balanced. God is waiting on us. But what I think is so cool about this is how quickly the balance comes when we surrender in a fashion like Sarah sings. Willingly. Knowing that surrender is all we can give.

Lord, I pray that today you would give me a heart of willing surrender. I don’t want to fight You nor the Life You offer. I desire to come to you, humbly, and give You the only thing I can: the life You have given me. Like a child who asks his father for money to buy him a gift, I offer You the only thing of value which is all that You’ve blessed me with. Amen.

One House

C.S. Lewis described Christianity like a house. He wrote that this House had a long hallway with a variety of doors leading off to different sides. Thinking like this, all Christians at some point stand in the hallway, and some stay there longer than others. But for most, there comes a point where we walk through doors labeled "Catholic" or "Baptist" or the ever popular "Nondenominational." Whether we care to admit it or not, everyone chooses a door. Because "it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals." Worship and fellowship happens in the rooms. Study. Rest. Life goes on in those rooms. In the hallway, we’re usually just passing each other by. This isn’t to say there isn’t merit in the hallway though.

…of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house.

Because we do share one common house. Not that there aren’t things upon which we differ, or issues which we take with certain styles, but none of that matters provided we are all living in the same house, built on The Foundation, that true and proper Cornerstone. We build our notions of church up on things we prefer rather than Truth.

And above all, you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and panelling…the question should never be: ‘Do I like that kind of service?’ but ‘Are these doctrines true: Is holiness there? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to move to this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike for this particular door-keeper?’

The first experience with Christ in this world was worship, and those who came to see God Incarnate did not care about the style or location. Worshiping the Christ overshadowed all of their personal preferences. And we forget that.

Crucial to living in the same house together is respect. Respect for those who have chosen rooms different from our own, and respect for those who are still standing in the hallway or just coming in the door.

If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.

A New Model of The Universe

There is no possibility of remembering what has been found and understood, and later repeating it to oneself. It disappears as a dream disappears. Perhaps it is all nothing but a dream.

In 1931, a Russian author dared to think that there was something more than this world. P.D. Ouspensky knew on a very intuitive level that certain things were defective in modern thinking, and that something else was needed to correct the error.

What is perhaps most interesting, or maybe disturbing, is the precision with which he foresaw the degeneration of Western life. To read his thoughts on the corruption of language, penned over 75 years ago, causes a shudder when one begins to look at the postmodern view of language, ranging from things such as ebonics to internet jargon.

For so many years, America saw itself as the antithesis of the Soviet regime, the very system under which Ouspensky wrote his essays. But the degeneration Ouspensky saw coming has infiltrated every corner of Western life. America, England, France, Russia, etc. All the countries that "represent" Western culture have found themselves under attack by the same degradation and meaninglessness.

What hope can there be for so many cultures, who have only proven that Progressivism was an empty theory from the beginning? Although I could quote C.S. Lewis to provide what I believe may be the answer, I shall instead let Ouspensky speak on the issue. And perhaps his hope can be made our own:

Suddenly I began to find a strange meaning in old fairy-tales; woods, rivers, mountains, became living beings; mysterious life filled the night; with new interests and new expectations I began to dream again of distant travels; and I remembered many extraordinary things that I had heard about old monasteries. Ideas and feelings which had long since ceased to interest me suddenly began to assume significance and interest. A deep meaning and many subtle allegories appeared in what only yesterday had seemed to be naive popular fantasy or crude superstition. And the greatest mystery and the greatest miracle was that the thought became possible that death may not exist, that those who have gone may not have vanished altogether, but exist somewhere and somehow, and that perhaps I may see them again. I have become so accustomed to think "scientifically" that I am afraid even to imagine that there may be something else beyond the outer covering of life. I feel like a man condemned to death, whose companions have been hanged and who has already become reconciled to the thought that the same fate awaits him; and suddenly he hears that his companions are alive, that they have escaped and that there is hope also for him. And he fears to believe this, because it would be so terrible if it proved to be false, and nothing would remain but prison and the expectation of execution.