Friday, February 26, 2010

O Christ, Be The Center

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

[C.S. Lewis]

It is so easy to view Christianity as something to be taken on and off like an old sweater. Something that is comfortable, but gets kinda scratchy if we leave it on for too long. Christianity, however, is not something to be compartmentalized. Our relationship with God should be central. It should be our motivation for every action; our reason for every behavioral pattern; and our only lens with which we see the world. We cannot separate God from our relationships. We cannot separate God from our academic endeavors. We cannot separate God from our jobs. We cannot - and really, should not be able to - separate God from any part of our lives. Every aspect of our lives should go back to the question, "How is this promoting the glory of God?".

Instead of viewing our lives as revolving around Christ, we see Christ as some sort of "addition". Something that we have to "work into" our already jam-packed schedules. But Christianity, as C.S. Lewis points out, is not something to only see and admire, it is something to see with: something to affect every part of us.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Watch

"A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure." [Lee Sagel]

Suppose a man had a job interview scheduled for 2:00 on a Tuesday afternoon. When he arrived at 4:00 on Tuesday afternoon, the interviewer would have a natural cause for the question, "Why are you late?" Suppose the man replied nonchalantly, "Well, I have four different watches that I keep with me, and they all read different times, so I really wasn't sure." In other words, I just guessed. Do you think the man interviewing him would take him seriously? Um. I think not. He would probably look at him like he had gone bonkers. And for good reason. Sounds like a silly illustration, right?

The modern man is exactly like that man with the four watches. He, however, is praised for being "tolerant", for being "open-minded." In our culture, we are all slammed relentlessly with the idea that "there are no facts; only interpretation" (as James Emery White says in his book, Serious Times). It could be 4:52, 11:37, or just depends on how you want to interpret the hands on your watch. We are labeled as "intolerant" for claiming that there is one absolute truth. It doesn't really matter too much to anyone what that absolute truth that we're claiming is; just the fact that we're claiming anything to be absolute truth is a threat to the postmodern way of thinking. The irony of their thinking is that they are claiming that the one absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth. Funny.

This would account for the reason why people these days, in most cases, are fine with discussing religion. They don't mind that we go to church. They don't mind that we believe there is a God. They don't even mind that we believe that Jesus is God's son. But when we tell them that Jesus said (John 14:6), "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me," we will no doubt be quickly shut down by a statement that falls somewhere along the lines of, "Well, that's great that you think that, but I will determine whether or not that is really relevant to my life."

Personally, when I'm met with a response like this, it unnerves me. I don't know exactly what to say to refute such a thought process. The thing to remember is that our belief in God is not merely an opinion. I feel harsh even typing it out, but there it is, and it's the truth. In reality, God is the only one who can, in fact, determine what absolute truth is, because He is completely outside of us. Not only has He determined and defined absolute truth, He has actually revealed it to us. He could have left us here to figure it out for ourselves (which apart from Him, we could not do). We would be fools not to take Him at His word. We do not affirm that Jesus rose from the death because we "think" that's what happened. We believe that Jesus rose because God told us that He did. Our confidence comes not from ourselves, but from Someone a lot bigger than us.

All of the opposing worldviews have something in common: they have set themselves up to be the ultimate authority. The way they "feel" determines right and wrong. The way they "think" determines what reality is and what it is not. Their entire world view is determined by how they view the world. Who are we, as humans, to make a call on what the world is or what it isn't? If a world-renowned scientist were to tell us that a certain animal had become extinct, we would not question his judgment. After all, he is a scientist and would know what he's talking about. Yet, people feel that they can challenge the authority of Almighty God who was and is and will be forever. The idea is unfathomable.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

Most people have probably never heard of George Matheson. He grew up in Scotland some hundred and fifty years ago. He was extremely bright, and always one of the top students in his class. By the time he was twenty, he was happily engaged and was determined to enter the ministry.

But then he became completely blind.

His fiance called off the wedding, insisting that she could not live with someone who was blind for the rest of her life. Matheson could have responded in anger - anger towards the lady who had rejected him and anger towards God. After all, God could have prevented his blindness, couldn't He? But instead of wallowing in self pity or bitterness, this trial in his life made him turn to God, not away from Him. It was this period of suffering in his life that inspired the words of the hymn, "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go." Later, George Matheson said about the writing of this hymn: "Some­thing hap­pened to me, which was known only to my­self, and which caused me the most se­vere men­tal suf­fer­ing. The hymn was the fruit of that suf­fer­ing. It was the quick­est bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the im­press­ion of hav­ing it dic­tat­ed to me by some in­ward voice ra­ther than of work­ing it out my­self."

About this fruit of suffering Elisabeth Elliot, in her book The Path of Loneliness, says, "The way of the cross for George Matheson was heartbreak. God's power could have spared him that, but God's love chose to give him something far more precious than the happiness he had lost. If he had not entered the lonely wilderness, George Matheson would not have found his sweet treasure. Would you say the price of that was too high? God never denies us our heart's desire except to give us something better."

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Which Kind Are You?

"There are three kinds of people in the world: people who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who wonder what just happened."

Although this quote doesn't necessarily have spiritual implications, I still find it true in light of Christianity. God does not call us to be passive. He did not place us here, in this specific time, to merely survive. When I first heard this quote, my reaction was to try to label it as a "personality thing". So-and-so is outgoing, and so she is going to be the one that makes things happen; whereas so-and-so just doesn't have the personality and so he's the "type" that is going to sit back and watch. God doesn't label us by personality types. The truth is that he has called us all to the same thing: to live our lives in a way that brings Him maximum glory. Okay, so maybe you're an introvert, but is that really an excuse? I don't think so. As Christians, we should all be the "type" of person that makes things happen. After all, in the end, it's not going to matter what people thought about us. What's going to matter is whether or not we used the things that God gave us to showcase His supremacy. How different the world would be if we would get past our fear of man!

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of love and power and discipline."
[2 Timothy 1: 7]

Monday, February 1, 2010

Severe Mercies

"While what we call 'our own life' remains agreeable, we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interest but make 'our own life' less agreeable to us?"

[C.S. Lewis]