Wednesday, September 20, 2006

why i like chesterton (pt 5)

on Christ...

"When we look, so to speak, through the four windows of the Evangelists at this mysterious figure, we can see there a recognisable Jew of the first century, with the traceable limitations of such a man. Now this is exactly what we do not see. If we must put the thing profanely and without sympathy, what we see is this: an extraordinary being who would certainly have seemed as mad in one century as another, who makes a vague and vast claim to divinity...For some of his utterances men might fairly call him a maniac; for others, men long centuries afterwards might justly call him a prophet. But what nobody can possibly call him is a Galilean of the time of Tiberius...That is not how he appeared to his own nation, who lynched him, still shuddering at his earth-shaking blasphemies...

"If I take it for granted (as most modern people do) that Jesus of Nazareth was one of the ordinary teachers of men, then I find Him splendid and suggestive indeed, but full of riddles and outrageous demands...but if I put myself hypothetically into the other attitude, the case becomes curiously arresting and even thrilling. If I say 'Suppose the Divine did really walk and talk upon the earth, what should we be likely to think of it?' -- than the foundations of my mind are moved. So far as I can form any conjecture, I think we should see in such a being exactly the perplexities that we see in the central figure of the Gospels...I think he would seem to us to contradict himself; because, looking down on life like a map, he would see a connection between things which to us are disconnected. I think, however, that he would always ring true to our own sense of right, but ring (so to speak) too loud and too clear. He could be too good but never too bad for us: 'Be ye perfect.' I think there would be, in the nature of things, some tragic collision between him and the humanity he had created, culminating in something that would be at once a crime and an expiation...I think, in short, that he would give us a sensation that he was turning all our standards upside down, and yet also a sensation that he had undeniably put them the right way up."

--In response to an article denying the divinity of Christ. Chesterton was years away from professing faith in God, but had a love for dogma and historical truth.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

a little bit of dying...or maybe a lot

The other night a friend of ours joined us for a back porch conversation. The summer heat has finally subsided and we've been enjoying cool evenings sitting under the stars at least for a few minutes each night. Our back porch is temporarily out of commission...paint is still drying on the concrete, after we pulled up the lovely putting green carpet and used way too much elbow grease cleaning up the glue on the surface. Tomorrow it'll be back in service, and until then we've utilized the driveway behind the house for seating area.

So back to this conversation. Our friend is a couple of years removed from college and has been hit very hard with the frustrations of calling, career, friendships, church, and hobbies. They're all individual and separate, but very interwoven in reality. Displeasure or struggle in one pours into another, and if they all start to brew, it is difficult to step outside to get a true picture of life. That was the case here.

It is hard to listen. The human heart does not enjoy frustration, sadness, and hard things. We like to "be there" for someone, to be a rescue...but to walk alongside appropriately, effectively, patiently--that is not necessarily the road of choice. Listening is a gift of grace.

It is hard to not offer answers. The human heart, when exposed to these things, immediately rushes to conclusions and the "fixing" part; especially the male human heart, speaking from experience. We want to solve problems. We want resolution. Speaking truth and courage into a life is a gift of grace.

So what's this about dying? Well, as our conversation continued, we found intrigue and hope in being reminded that being a believer in the gospel of Christ and transformed by His Spirit includes a little bit of dying...or maybe a lot. Dying to some dreams that aren't coming to fruition. Dying to the idea of not having bills to pay, especially those student loans. Dying to the idea that friendships last forever and never have struggles. The post-college years are critical in walking through these things.

But the glory of the Gospel is that death is not final. In the midst of death there must be life! And when we die to these things, whatever they may be, we simultaneously embrace the hope and glory of the Gospel. Is everything resolved nice and tidily? Probably not. Believing in the hope of the Gospel involves a willingness to long for a substantial healing...a proximite justice...while on earth, trusting and believing that a complete and fulfilling healing is yet to come. We wait, but we wait with hope. And we overflow for others to experience this grace and glory.

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