In the third section of CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity, he explores Christian behavior. And just to clarify, he is not talking about how all Christians behave, but how we should behave if we are following Jesus. He spends time on several of the things that many of us struggle with, but then he lands on what he calls “The Great Sin”, and I have called “The Deadliest Sin”. That sin is pride or self-conceit. He talks about pride as being the only sin that is competitive. It’s not “look at how much I have” or “look how good looking I am”, it is “look how much more I have than Joe” or “look how much better looking I am than Betty.” Regrettably, this competitive nature applies to how we view our religiosity as well. “I go to church every Sunday and go on a mission trip every summer. I wish all Christians were as committed as I am. Bless their heart.” Looking down on other people has the terrible result of making it harder to look up to God. And Lewis leaves us with an ominous warning: as soon as you start feeling like you have conquered pride, achieved humility and begun to think good of yourself, you better take a closer look at what just happened.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
On March 17th, there was a lot of green beer consumed in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, but my brother, Craig, and his wife, Carolyn, were celebrating something different - their 36th wedding anniversary. Just staying married for 36 years is cause for celebration, but Craig and Carolyn have a lot more to celebrate after successfully raising 6 children and getting them all to or through college. Their home is not what you would call a quiet place. And that is because it is almost always filled with family and friends who laugh a lot. I am envious at how much laughter is in their house and know that it is primarily due to the spirit that Craig and Carolyn have nurtured in their home. I am also very proud of their Christian witness within their family and their community. Both of them have led/are leading groups in their home that gather to learn more about Jesus and give thanks for what He has done and continues to do. I am proud of the example that Craig and Carolyn have set for their family, for others and for me and know that there will be many more anniversary celebrations to follow. I love you both.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
My workload was doubled up this week due to Michael being on vacation. Instead of taking his family to the beach or Disney World, he is in Nicaragua leading a group of college students on a mission trip. This is his third time to take the trip and the first time that his wife, Emily, has been able to go with him. That means that Caroline and I, in addition to Emily's parents, are able to spend some quality time with the grandkids while they are gone. I am so proud of both of Emily and Michael for their passion for service. I know that the investment they make there will pay off for everyone: those they are serving, those they are leading, themselves, and most important, the Kingdom.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
I saw this article about a new painting by Sam Spratt that was just revealed in conjunction with the book, Killing Jesus, by Bill O’Reilly and the National Geographic movie of the same name. I am no art critic, but I do think the painting is beautiful. More interesting to me however, were the artist’s notes about the painting:
“While I’m not religious or Christian, there are just some pretty universal truths out there, regardless of belief system, one of which being that he’s easily one of the most — if not the most — influential figure of all time.”
This struck a chord with me as I had just finished reading the chapter in Mere Christianity with our Connect Group which addresses this position that many people seem to hold: “Jesus was a great moral teacher, but I just don’t believe he was God or God’s son. What a great guy, though. Really influential.”
There is no sense in me trying to rephrase what CS Lewis said so perfectly:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said, would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about Him being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”