“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.
“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.” —C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
People need God’s love and He chose us to lavish it on them. But it isn’t safe—it breaks hearts and leaves scars—such love got Jesus killed. It’s not bottled up among safe friends and it can’t coexist with self-protection. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Now that’s risky.
Go make someone’s day—perhaps even that of your enemy.
I’ve performed hundreds of weddings and done way too much marriage counseling. Though I’ll stay the course, I admit I’ve toyed with the idea of not doing it anymore. Why? I’m weary of perjury. Read on—C.S. Lewis’ observations just may save your love.
“Justice…includes keeping promises. Now—everyone who has been married in a church has made a public, solemn promise to stick to his (or her) partner till death… To this someone may reply that he regarded the promise made in church as a mere formality and never intended to keep it. Whom, then, was he trying to deceive when he made it? God? That was really very unwise. Himself? That was not very much wiser. The bride or bridegroom or the “in-laws”? That was treacherous. Most often, I think, the couple (or one of them) hoped to deceive the public. They wanted the respectability that is attached to marriage without intending to pay the price—that is, they were imposters, they cheated. If they are still contented cheats, I have nothing to say to them—who would urge the high and hard duty of chastity on people who have not yet wished to be merely honest? If they have now come to their senses and want to be honest—their promise—already made—constrains them. And this, you will see, comes under the heading of justice—not that of chastity. If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not mean to keep. It is true that by living together without marriage they will be guilty (in Christian eyes) of fornication. But one fault is not mended by adding another—unchastity is not improved by adding perjury.”
Marriage’s forgotten glue is the truth of the promises heartily declared in front of witnesses and God. We still musn’t take the Name of the Lord in vain—which has everything to do with vows and little to do with profanity. Tragically, the value of a couple’s wedding vows have so diminished that their promises need only hold until one decide’s they shouldn’t anymore. Even the witnesses to the “I do’s” merely see themselves as guests and no longer as a threat of mass accountability. When people operate by any lesser truth than that of God’s immutable Word, integrity has no constraints and accountability holds no terror. The proof is in the perjury.
Actor Peter Graves, when asked how his 50-year marriage lasted so long, forcefully replied, “We promised!”
Yes, we did.
“Jesus loves us not because we’re good, but because He’s Jesus.” —Pastor Kevin Green
We can’t escape this fact anymore than God can escape Himself. Jesus loves broken people like us because He does as He is, and for no other reason.
That is tremendous.
“You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked…is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself—the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes. How this should be, I do not know: it passes reason to explain why any creatures, not to say creatures such as we, should have a value so prodigious in their Creator’s eyes. It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts but also (except in rare moments of grace) beyond our desiring…” —C.S. Lewis on the Sermon on the Mount
Revel in this, for there is nothing greater—then go love others the same way He loved you.
(It’s okay—He will help.)
Illustration by Justin Sweet © 2006
(An Elementary School teacher’s poem…)
He came to my desk with a quivering lip, the lesson was done;
“Have you a new sheet for me, dear teacher, I’ve spoiled this one?”
I took his sheet, all soiled and blotted,
Gave him a new one, all unspotted;
And into his tired heart I cried, “Do better now, my child.”
I went to the Throne with a trembling heart, the day was done;
“Have you a new day for me, dear Master, I’ve spoiled this one?”
He took my day, all soiled and blotted,
Gave me a new one, all unspotted;
And into my tired heart He cried, “Do better now, my child.”
Don’t you just love God’s grace…?
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels…
“Here from this stable, here, from this Nazareth, this stony beach, this Jerusalem, this market place, this garden, this Praetorium, this Cross, this mountain, I announce it to you. I announce to you what is guessed at in all the phenomena of your world. You see the corn of wheat shrivel and break open and die, but you expect a crop. I tell you of the Springtime of which all springtimes speak. I tell you of the world for which this world groans and toward which it strains. I tell you that beyond the awful borders imposed by time and space and contingency, there lies what you seek. I announce to you life instead of mere existence, freedom instead of frustration, justice instead of compensation. For I announce to you redemption. Behold I make all things new. Behold I do what cannot be done. I restore the years that the locusts and worms have eaten. I restore the years [that] you have drooped away upon your crutches and in your wheelchair. I restore the symphonies and operas which your deaf ears have never heard, and the snowy massif your blind eyes have never seen, and the freedom lost to you through plunder and the identity lost to you because of calumny [slander] and the failure of justice; and I restore the good which your own foolish mistakes have cheated you of. And I bring you to the Love of which all other loves speak, the Love which is joy and beauty, and which you have sought in a thousand streets and for which you have wept and clawed your pillow.” —Thomas Howard, Christ the Tiger
O come, let us adore Him.