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The God who cries

One of the most joyful parts of the Christian life is seeing new elements in the character of God. These, like facets of a precious stone, are seen in fresh ways many more times as you rethink and explore more deeply who God is.  Today I find myself rethinking an emotion of God aided by the quote from C. S. Lewis that you can read below..

I confess to not being a great fan of Lewis (is that heresy in Christian circles?) but I do love this quote from The Magicians Nephew. Here it is as cited on the RZIM website:

“Please—Mr. Lion—Aslan, Sir?” said Digory working up the courage to ask. “Could you—may I—please, will you give me some magic fruit of this country to make my mother well?”

Digory, at this point in the story, had brought about much disaster for Aslan and his freshly created Narnia. But he had to ask. In fact, he thought for a second that he might attempt to make a deal with Aslan. But quickly Digory realized the lion was not the sort of person with which one could try to make bargains.

Lewis then recounts, “Up till then the child had been looking at the lion’s great front feet and the huge claws on them. Now in his despair he looked up at his face. And what he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and wonder of wonders great shining tears stood in the lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the lion must really be sorrier about his mother than he was himself.”

“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another…”

A rope of sand

George Whitefield

I passionately believe that a process of discipleship is the best way to equip followers of Jesus Christ to grow and mature in their service of Him. There are many options as to how this is best achieved.

George Whitefield was an amazingly effective evangelist in the 1800’s, he was a contemporary of John Wesley. Wesley was renowned for his discipled approach to the work of the kingdom, organising his converts into larger and smaller groups (class meetings) that none might be lost and that greater depth in their love for, and walk with, the Lord be achieved. Whitefield was less structured simply desiring that men and women should be saved but, arguably, not thinking as much about future spiritual growth.

I recently discovered the conversation below which took place towards the end of Whitefield’s life. It is worth pondering.

Whitefield met an old friend, Mr John Pool and accosted him in the following manner:
“Well, John, art thou still a Wesleyan?”
Pool replied, “Yes, sir, and I thank God that I have the privilege of being in connection with him, and one of his preachers.”
“John,” said Whitefield, “thou art in the right place. My brother Wesley acted wisely—the souls that were awakened under his ministry he joined in class, and thus preserved the fruits of his labor. This I neglected, and my people are a rope of sand.”

Worship that’s not sinful or evil

I regularly read posts from UnHerd, as a liberal in search of a home I find their perspective refreshing. Below is part of a recent post from Giles Fraser who is speaking of David Foster Wallace, you might find it interesting.

Water, for Wallace, is the ubiquitous cultural presumptions in which we are all immersed, so all-surrounding as to be invisible. They are the beliefs that we all take for granted, that shape and sustain us. But the purpose of a good liberal arts education, Wallace maintains, is that throughout the boring everydayness of queueing at the supermarket checkout or whatever dulling routine our jobs lead us into, whatever the water in which we swim, it gives us the intellectual tools to take a step back and choose what to make of our circumstances.

“You get to decide what you worship” is how he puts it. “Because … in the day-to-day trenches of adult life there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” And a good reason for worshipping some sort of god is that “pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive”.

What follows is like a preacher on fire:

“If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you… Worship power, you will end up weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, you will always end up feeling stupid, a fraud.”

I was rocked by this address. “The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.”

Disappointing Christian Community?

The following words are quoted by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis in Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission. I think Bonhoeffer hits at the heart of why many people find church community disappointing at times, and at the location of the solution.

“Those who dream of [an] idealized community,” warns Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others, and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands, set up their own law, and judge one another and even God accordingly.”

He continues:


[We] can never live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and deed that really binds us together, the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. . . . Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our community is in Jesus Christ alone, the more calmly we will learn to think about our community and pray and hope for it.