The Transposition of my Imagination

I was listening to an audio book of C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory when I blinked a few times in the striking light of his prose, realizing for the first time what it meant to look along the light and not merely at it.  I was stunned. Lewis argued logically in poetic prose. It was so rich and clear. Lewis conversed so long in the western cannon that he wrote with a Western-Christendom accent. He spoke like one who had walked with Truth in the cool of the day through the English countryside and could imitate the Poet’s cadence and tone.

I was overcome with the idea that I was listening to someone who didn’t think about God as much as He thought like God. I purchased a copy of The Weight of Glory before I was done with the audio book and devoured the print by night and audio by day. I was transported out of myself. I had been looking through borrowed contacts. The eyes of my faith were altered. Continue reading

Love at the Center

In contrast to the philosophies of atheism and pantheism, Jesus Christ put love at the center of life. Love is the central concern in Christ‘s apologetic to the world. Both John 13:35 and John 17:20- 23 indicate that the world will not know who Jesus is through the means of his ultimate apologetic-love among believers-unless believers demonstrate his love first to each other and then to the watching world. The New Testament emphasis on agape is utterly unique among world religions. The statement “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16) cannot be said in any other view of life. The ultimate demonstration of love is the cross, and that is the painful, self-sacrificial, other-directed love to which we are called.

Art Lindsley. Love, the Ultimate Apologetic: The Heart of Christian Witness (pp. 160-161). Kindle Edition.

Attacking Brothers with Blessing

Paul usually included a benediction of grace and peace in his letters. “The God of peace be with all of you. Amen” (Romans 15:33). “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen” (1 Corinthians 16:23-24). “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen” (Galatians 6:18). Here our greetings convey both human love and divine favor. Paul was not merely talking about a blessing; he was imparting it. In doing so, Paul was drawing on a rich Old Testament tradition. The “blessing” was standard practice among the people of God from the very beginning. Fathers pronounced a blessing on their children, a leader on the people. The blessing was given through prophetic utterance or the change of a name. Such a blessing communicated God’s favor. The loss of blessing was considered a terrible curse, as we learn from Esau, who wept bitterly when his father decided to let the blessing on Jacob remain, even though he had received it under false pretense.

Esau’s cry-“O Father, bless me!”-has echoed through the centuries in the hearts of those who have never received a greeting that carries the blessing of God. Children, parents, spouses, lovers, colleagues and friends want to know that our love for them reflects the love of God, that our love for them channels the love of God. People want to know that God’s favor rests on them. They depend on us, at least in part, to receive that blessing.

Our Christian enemies need that blessing too. I am not proposing that we ignore or dismiss tensions in the church today, but I am suggesting that we mitigate them by praying the favor of God on our Christian opponents whenever we meet them, whether in cordial or adversarial situations. They belong to God, as we do; they believe in God, as we do; they stand in need of God, as we do. The substance of our disagreements might not change, but the spirit of the relationship often will if in our greetings we bestow God’s blessing. We need to remind our opponents that though we differ with them in theology or practice, we still regard them as Christian brethren.

Gerald L. Sittser. Love One Another: Becoming the Church Jesus Longs For (Kindle Locations 316-328). Kindle Edition.

The Son of Man Came…?

How would you complete the sentence: “The Son of Man came. . .”? The Son of Man came . . . preaching the Word . . . to establish the kingdom of God . . . to die on the cross. Perhaps the question is more revealing if we make it, “We should go . . .”? We should go . . . campaign for political change . . . preach on street corners . . . make the most of new media . . . adapt to the culture we want to reach.

There are three ways the New Testament completes the sentence, “The Son of Man came . . .” “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45); “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10); “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking . . .” (Luke 7:34).

The first two are statements of purpose. Why did Jesus come? He came to serve, to give his life as a ransom, to seek and save the lost. The third is a statement of method. How did Jesus come

The Last Supper (Luke 22:21-23)

The Last Supper (Luke 22:21-23) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

? He came eating and drinking. “Son of Man” is Daniel’s label for one who comes before God to receive authority over the nations (Daniel 7). And now Jesus, the Son of Man, has come. But how does he come? Does he come with an army of angels? Does he come on the clouds of heaven? Does he come with a blaze of glory? No, he comes “eating and drinking.”

Chester, Tim (2011-04-07). A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table (Re:Lit) (p. 12). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

C.S. Lewis and the Academic Theology Echo Chamber

But, more positively, it is at least possible that Lewis – despite not being an academic theologian himself – might have something to teach academic theologians about their own subject. Among other things, this may have to do with the way in which Lewis harnessed his imagination, reason, historical knowledge, wit, and considerable rhetorical gifts in a sustained effort to communicate the substance of his convictions to as wide an audience as possible. In its commendable quest for disciplinary purity and intellectual integrity, academic theology is actually in great danger of sealing itself within a very small, self-enclosed echo chamber in which experts talk to other experts while losing all contact with the outside world. Meanwhile, Lewis continues to sell millions of books a year and to shape the religious faith of thousands.

(2012-10-17). The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis (Cambridge Companions to Religion) (p. 4). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

The Context of True Love

English: folio 150 recto of the codex, with th...

English: folio 150 recto of the codex, with the beginning of the 1. Epistle to the Corrinthians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This text, like all Scripture, should be read in context. If you tug on 1 Corinthians 13, you quickly find that it is tethered to the rest of the epistle and resists being torn from it. This isn’t rocket-surgery, but 1 Corinthians 13 comes between 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 14. There is a reason Paul includes this here. Paul has begun a discussion about spiritual gifts in chapter 12. He has written that the body of Christ is composed of many members with different functions, and that every member’s role (no matter how big or small it seems) is indispensable. The hand can’t get rid of the foot and expect to be productive, and the eye can’t make its exit from the body and hope to have any use except for disturbing Halloween pranks. The Spirit has distributed these tasks throughout the church and has equipped every believer with abilities to serve the people of Christ. And then, in chapter 14, Paul wants to put forward a principle that will determine how the church operates in spiritual gifts, particularly with prophecy and tongues. That principle is that everything must be done in the gathered church in order to build up others. This is the idea he repeatedly presents in chapter 14.

It is his constant concern: “… the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (v. 3) Continue reading

The Weight of Glory

“Wherever you turn your eyes, there is no portion of the world, however minute, that does not exhibit at least some sparks of beauty; while it is impossible to contemplate the vast and beautiful fabric as it extends around, without being overwhelmed by the immense weight of glory.” John Calvin

Too Young in the Meaning of Love

Are you in shadow? Are you pain? Do not cry to me. I can only cry with you. I will not die for you. I am still too young in the meaning of love. Talk to the Fool, to the one who left a throne to enter an anthill. He will enter your shadow. It cannot taint Him. He has done it before. His holiness is not fragile. It burns like a father to the sun. Touch His skin, put your hand in His side. He has kept His scars when He did not have to. Give Him your pain and watch it overwhelmed, burned away by the joy He takes in loving. In Stooping.

From Notes of a Tilt-a-whirl by N.D. Wilson