“You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive,’ or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity.’ [But] In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” —C.S. Lewis
We all want a better world—in fact we really need a new one. Someday. Until then, the world isn’t the problem, rather it’s the people shaping it, who crave a perfect world while rejecting any perfect, benevolent, loving standard. That’s where Jesus’ followers come in. We aren’t Him, but God is making us to be as much like Him as anyone can in this messy world. He’s often hated—and that means we will be, too—He said so. But in a world of “men without chests” we bring a beating heart of purpose, love and salvation to an increasingly turbulent generation. Until He comes, we are what the world needs—because we bring Him, all of Him, plus nothing.
The world is starving itself. Bring the fruit.
What will people remember you for? Even more, what have you done with your life that will outlast you? C.H. Spurgeon, the “prince of preachers”, put it like this…
“What pain to find your life-work to be a lot of wood, and hay, and stubble that will blaze furiously, and die out in ashes! You know what I mean: so much time spent in planning frivolous amusements for the people, so much talent expended in teaching that which is not the gospel, so much zeal consumed upon matters that do not concern eternal things, all this will burn. Beloved, do your Master’s work, win souls, preach Christ, expound your Bibles, pray men to be reconciled to God, plead with men to come to Christ. This kind of work will withstand the fire; and when the last great day shall dawn, this will remain to glory and honor!”
May all your deeds be fireproof.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” the Apostle Paul asked. The question itself is the answer…
“God is for us. Paul here arrives at the mountain height of the Christian position! And that, so to speak, by way of experience. He does indeed, in the word “us” bring all the saints with him. There was first our state of awful guilt and Christ’s work for us, and justification thereby. Then came knowledge of indwelling sin, and the Spirit’s work within us, and deliverance from sin’s power thereby. Now Paul has arrived upon the immovable mountain-top… and sees God Himself FOR us! Not at all meaning here that God is merely on our side in out struggles, but God’s uncaused, unalterable attitude with respect to those in Christ. God is FOR them! Nothing in time or in eternity to come has anything to do with matters here. Our weak hearts, prone to legality and unbelief, must with great difficulty receive these mighty words: God is FOR us! Place the emphasis here where GOD places it: on this great word “for”. God is FOR His elect. They have failed, but He is FOR them. They are ignorant, but He is FOR them. They have not yet brought forth much fruit, but He is FOR them. If our hearts once surrender to this stupendous fact that we are those whom God will be eternally FOR…whose lives do not at all affect the fact that God is FOR them, then we shall be ready to magnify the God of all grace!” —William Newell (emphasis in the original)
There is an unassailable star gleaming in the night of the world—a hope shining beyond the reach of any looming shadow, be it personal, political or spiritual. It is there, though clouds obscure it, and it will remain when they are forever banished.
It’s not the end of the world—yet. But with all that’s gone wrong on earth, how is it we’re still here? C.S. Lewis wondered that too…
“Why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil? Why is He not landing in force, invading it? Is it because He is not strong enough? Well, Christians think He is going to land in force—we do not know when. But we can guess why He is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely. I do not suppose you and I would have thought much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side. God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right—but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else-something it never entered your head to conceive-comes crashing in—something so beautiful to some of us—and so terrible to others—that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise—something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing—it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.”
The side we choose is everything, forever. Choose wisely. Choose today.
Sometimes Hollywood gets it right. Sometimes. In a quiet scene from “Chariots of Fire”, Scottish missionary Eric Liddell, to assuage his sister’s protests, explained why he would race in the Olympics before returning to his China ministry…
“Jenny, Jenny, you’ve got to understand, I believe that God made me for a purpose—for China. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt. You’re right—it’s not just fun, Jenny. To win is to honor Him.”
What do you love to do for others and do well? God put it there. Do it for Him; do it to win.
Our reputation is never more important to us than the moment we see ourselves through the eyes of the one we most love. How we live after that moment is truth of our love…
“To follow Jesus is to pay the cost of discipleship, and then to die to ourselves, to our own interests, our own agendas and reputations. It is to pick up our crosses and count the cost of losing all that contradicts his will and his way—including our reputations before the world, and our standing with the people and in the communities that we once held dear. It is to live before one audience—the audience of One, and therefore to die to all other conflicting opinions and assessments. There is no room here for such contemporary ideas as “the looking-glass self”, and no consideration here for trivial contemporary obsessions such as one’s legacy.” —Os Guinness
The Audience of One is watching our play—may the applause we hear be His.
Democracy makes people rulers, ideologies are their battlefields and votes are their swords—until a real King happens along…
“As Christians we know that here we have no continuing city—that crowns roll in the dust and every earthly kingdom must sometime flounder, whereas we acknowledge a King men did not crown and cannot dethrone, as we are citizens of a city of God they did not build and cannot destroy. Thus the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, living in a society as depraved and dissolute as ours. Their games, like our television, specialized in spectacles of violence and eroticism. Paul exhorted them to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in God’s work,” to concern themselves with the things that are unseen. “For the things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal.” It was in the breakdown of Rome that Christendom was born. Now in the breakdown of Christendom there are the same requirements and the same possibilities to eschew the fantasy of a disintegrating world and seek the reality of what is not seen and eternal, the reality of Christ.” —Malcolm Muggeridge
The King is coming.