Faith is a fight

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Every day we have to fight
the God-denying look of things.

–George MacDonald
(1824 – 1905)

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Published in: on 02/05/2013 at 4:56  Leave a Comment  
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When did you lose your wonder?

 

Imagine the most beautiful scenes you have ever known on this earth—rain forests, the prairie in full bloom, storm clouds over the African savanna, the Alps under a winter snow. Then imagine it all on the day it was born…

Into this world God opens his hand, and the animals spring forth. Myriads of birds, in every shape and size and song, take wing—hawks, herons, warblers. All the creatures of the sea leap into it—whales, dolphins, fish of a thousand colors and designs. Thundering across the plains race immense herds of horses, gazelles, buffalo, running like the wind. It is more astonishing than we could possibly imagine. No wonder “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:7. A great hurrah goes up from the heavens!

We have grown dull toward this world in which we live; we have forgotten that it is not normal or scientific in any sense of the word. It is fantastic. It is fairy tale through and through. Really now. Elephants? Caterpillars. Snow? At what point did you lose your wonder of it all?

Even so, once in a while something will come along and shock us right out of our dullness and resignation.

We come round a corner, and there before us is a cricket, a peacock, a stag with horns as big as he. Perhaps we come upon a waterfall, the clouds have made a rainbow in a circle round the sun, or a mouse scampers across the counter, pauses for a moment to twitch his whiskers at you, and disappears into the cupboard. And for a moment we realize we were born into a world astonishing as any fairy tale.

A world made for romance.

–John Eldredge

The wisdom of wonder

The Greek philosophers . . . called the deepest ground of knowing wonder. In wonder the senses are opened for the immediate impression of the world. In wonder the things perceived penetrate the sense fresh and unfiltered. They impose themselves on us. They make an impression on us . . .

People who can no longer be astonished, people who have got used to everything, people who perceive only as a matter of routine and react accordingly: people who live like this let reality pass them by . . .

Wonder is the inexhaustible foundation of our community with each other, with nature, with God.

–Jürgen Moltmann

Living on a star

If we once realize all this earth as it is, we should find ourselves in a land of miracles:

We shall discover a new planet at the moment
that we discover our own.

Among all the strange things that men have forgotten, the most universal and catastrophic lapse of memory is that by which they have forgotten that they are living on a star.

–G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)

An ancient heresy

The Church as been infected from almost the start with ancient Greek heresies that saw earthly matter and the human body as sub-par and “spirit” alone as desirable. Under this sinister influence, some in the Church depicted the Faith as salvation from the human body and this world. Biblical Christianity – thank God! — repudiated this heresy. Our Faith contends that only sin — not creation — is evil, and that this present world should be subordinated to Christ’s authority. Sin, not God’s world, is the problem.

–P. Andrew Sandlin  

Designed for delight

The world exists, not for what it means but for what it is. The purpose of mushrooms is to be mushrooms; wine is in order to wine: things are precious before they are contributory.

It is a false piety that walks through creation looking only for lessons which can be applied somewhere else.

To be sure, God remains the greatest good; but, for all that, the world is still good in itself. Indeed, since He does not need it, its whole reason for being must lie in its own natural goodness; He has no use for it, only delight.

–Robert Farrar Capon

Made to enjoy

I sometimes think that God will ask us,
“That wonderful world of mine,
why didn’t you enjoy it more?”

–Ronald Blythe

And God said it was good

“Love not the world, neither the things
that are in the world” (1 John 2:15).

“God . . . provides us richly with all things
for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

To treat the world with contempt and to enjoy the world are things contrary to each other. How, then can we to treat the world with contempt, which we are born to enjoy? Truly there are two worlds. One was made by God, the other by men. That made by God was great and beautiful. Before the Fall it was Adam’s joy and the Temple of his Glory. That made by men is a Babel of Confusions: Invented Riches, Pomps and Vanities, brought in by Sin . . . Leave the one that you may enjoy the other.

–adapted from Thomas Traherne (c. 1636-1674)

Becoming fully human

The Kingdom of God has to do not only with the God of creation, but also with the creation of God . . .

Making a difference in our world – Kingdom living – implies that there is a duality to be acknowledged. Jesus said: “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). There is light and darkness, right and wrong, good and evil. But what has happened is that all that is light, right and good has been identified with one side of ‘reality’ (= the church) and all that is dark, wrong and evil with the other side of ‘reality’ (= the ‘world’). The result is that many Christians have adopted a ‘siege mentality’, hauling up the drawbridge so that there is little real intercourse between the church and the world.

Instead of celebrating all that is good in the world,
some Christians view the secular world
as unspiritual, even to be avoided.

Early on in the life of the church all sorts of wrong ideas about the world in which we live began to take root. It’s called dualism, and it has a lot to do with Plato, whose ideas have infiltrated the church over the centuries.

Dualism has robbed many people – and
many Christians – of the joy of life
in God’s good creation.

Simply put, dualism says that life is divided into two compartments, the holy and the unholy, or the sacred and the profane: for one compartment – obviously ‘holy’! – read ‘church’, and for the other (‘unholy’) read the ‘world’…

We so easily divide life up into two realms, with a whole lot of false opposites. We pit sacred against secular, faith against works, church against world, soul against body, heaven against earth, prayer against politics, creeds against deeds, and so we could go on.

Some sections of the church need to repent of the narrow dualism that avoids any form of genuine contact with the world, a suffocating dualism that can treat God’s creation as intrinsically contaminating rather than intrinsically wholesome and good . . .

Hans Kung, the well-known Catholic theologian,
was once asked why we should
embrace Christianity. His reply was:
“So that we can be fully human.”

Spirituality and humanity go together – they are not to be pulled apart – in fact, I would go so far as to say that our Christian maturity could be measured not by how ‘spiritual’ we are, but how fully human we allow ourselves to be! What is our ultimate destination, as Christians? …

Our ultimate destination is not heaven –
it is the new earth that will represent the final act
in God’s great redemptive purposes.

–Graham Buxton
(adapted)

Satan opposes love

They that know anything in this world
know that, as the first great opposition of hell,
the world, and corrupt nature, is against
faith to God by Christ, so the next
great opposition made against us,
is against our love.

—John Owen
(1616 – 1683)

Published in: on 08/19/2011 at 1:02  Leave a Comment  
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