The man who loves most will love best. The man who thoroughly loves God and his neighbour is the only man who will love a woman ideally—who can love her with the love God thought of between them when he made man male and female. The man, I repeat, who loves God with his very life, and his neighbour as Christ loves him, is the man who alone is capable of grand, perfect, glorious love to any woman.
George MacDonald, The Day Boy and the Night Girl. Kindle Edition.
Of all teachings that which presents a far distant God is the nearest to absurdity. Either there is none, or he is nearer to every one of us than our nearest consciousness of self. An unapproachable divinity is the veriest of monsters, the most horrible of human imaginations.
George MacDonald, The Complete Fantasy Collection – The Day Boy and the Night Girl. Kindle Edition.
The Father and His Son as well as the Spirit dream of a transformed world—this world we live in, not just the one to come. They want to show off the power of the Creator to renew, restore, and rebuild the world they created and that humanity has destroyed.
Not for years and years had Janet been to church; she had long been unable to walk so far; and having no book but the best, and no help to understand it but the highest, her faith was simple, strong, real, all-pervading. Day by day she pored over the great gospel—I mean just the good news according to Matthew and Mark and Luke and John—until she had grown to be one of the noble ladies of the kingdom of heaven—one of those who inherit the earth, and are ripening to see God. For the Master, and his mind in hers, was her teacher. She had little or no theology save what he taught her, or rather, what he is.
George MacDonald, The Day Boy and the Night Girl. Kindle Edition.
One day she brought it up at the beginning of the class, and the others seemed to want to talk too, so I plunged in: “There are three ways you can live life—three again—remember that the great writers almost always do things in threes. You can live life as though it’s all a cosmic accident; we’re nothing but an irritating skin disease on the face of the earth. Maybe you can live your life as though everything’s a bad joke. I can’t.”
They couldn’t, either, though for some of the kids who sat around the table that day not much had happened to make them think that life is anything else.
“Or you can go out at night and look at the stars and think, yes, they were created by a prime mover, and so were you, but he’s aloof perfection, impassible, indifferent to his creation. He doesn’t care, or, if he cares, he only cares about the ultimate end of his creation, and so what happens to any part of it on the way is really a matter of indifference. You don’t matter to him, I don’t matter to him, except possibly as a means to an end. I can’t live that way, either.”
Again there was general agreement.
“Then there’s a third way: to live as though you believe that the power behind the universe is a power of love, a personal power of love, a love so great that all of us really do matter to him. He loves us so much that every single one of our lives has meaning; he really does know about the fall of every sparrow, and the hairs of our head are really counted. That’s the only way I can live.”
Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet, pages 63-64.
A friend of ours, Hugh Bishop of Mirfield, says in one of his books: “Love is not an emotion. It is a policy.” Those words have often helped me when all my feelings were unlovely. . . I am slowly coming to understand with my heart as well as my head that love is not a feeling. It is a person.
We are incapable of being fully content in this lifetime because we are broken people living in a fallen world. The world we live in is cursed and no longer able to satisfy us. We are broken people, who are no longer able to resist sin because of our inborn fallen nature. We have high ideals and expectations that are rooted in our original creation in the image of God, but they are all inaccessible. There is no way that we can ever be satisfied in this world, because we were created for a different world. Ultimate contentment is in Christ. He allows us to experience a measure of contentment in this fallen world as he enters into us and begins transforming us. But we will never be completely satisfied until we have seen Jesus face to face and been made like him. Then we will stand before him with the angels and all the saints and worship him forever. This will be our final and eternal contentment.
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest questions before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.
Our faith never grows if it is not challenged. I just went for my first bike ride of the season – very short – and my legs were quivering and ached for days. I used to ride 10 to 20 miles a couple times a week. I barely got home having gone less than two! I have not been challenging my legs. My leg muscles have atrophied because I’ve been using them minimally, just enough to get by.
In the same way, has my faith atrophied, has it grown weak, because my circumstances are comfortable? I make plenty of money, have a good wife and home life, no financial concerns. Life is good. But is good good if the result is our faith is getting weaker?
How can I challenge my faith? How can I take it on a sprint one day, then do some long endurance training later in the week? What should I be doing to strengthen my faith regularly?
Read the Word and pray more, you say! But that is not stretching my faith. The Word is bread to my soul; it is nourishment. Prayer is talking with God, where He instructs me, encourages me. Prayer is my time with my Strength Coach! But if I eat right and have a Strength Coach, but never actually work out, I make no progress. Is that where I am spiritually? I eat well, I have a Coach, (who keeps me from totally falling off the wagon), but I don’t ever go out to give my faith a good work-out.
And what is a proper faith work-out? It’s certainly not about what I enjoy doing. What is it that God needs me to be doing to advance His Kingdom at this time? If I were the type to get a bullhorn and preach the gospel on a street corner, that would undoubtedly build my faith since I would be going out and doing something very uncomfortable for me. But I firmly believe bullhorn preaching drives many more people away from God than it attracts to Him. So, what are the activities I should be intentionally engaging in that are a stretch for me, but draw people toward Jesus? And can I even know and plan these activities in advance, or will God just give me the opportunities when I am doing whatever I am doing? But I fear just doing whatever I am doing has not made much Kingdom impact. People don’t come up to me and ask me why I’m so different. They don’t ask me about this God I know.
Jesus, please work in me so that I am where You want me to be when You want me there, and willing to do whatever it may be You prompt me to do. Regardless of how uncomfortable it may make me feel.
Sin is the expression of man’s struggle with the meaning of his existence while missing life from God. It is all the varieties of ways man deals with and expresses his rebellion against his Creator as he encounters the inescapable issue of meaning.
David C. Needham, Alive for the First Time, page 30.
Some of you may remember the old days when we used manual typewriters. If you wanted a copy, you went to the Xerox machine (or copy machine as a few people called it) and made copies and distributed those copies in interoffice envelopes with little string ties. If the person who received the copy wanted to further distribute the document, he or she also went to the Xerox and made copies. But as copies were made of copies of copies, each lost a little of the sharpness, the crispness of the original. In much the same way, as humanity has continued over the years, our souls have lost the sharpness of what it means to be a true image-bearer of the Almighty God.
But when we see our Savior face-to-face, he will not resurrect us just as we were when we breathed our last breath on earth. Oh, no, rather, we will be remade into fully human, proper Image-Bearers, who will reflect the glory of God as well as did our original parents.