Monday, March 29, 2010
For Holy Week, one more Lenten re-post, from March of 2008. . . ------------------------- During Lent, I am struck again and again with the conviction that the Christian life is a lot more serious than I generally treat it as being. It is so easy to play at Christianity – to talk the jargon, do the theology, know the Scriptures, even – to get real good at the outward appearances, but miss the inner transformation, the knowledge of God. ------------------------- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us” (from The Weight of Glory, by CS Lewis) Alas; and I am the most half-hearted of all. I cannot escape the conviction that God is in deadly earnest about a way of life that I’m content to dabble in at my leisure. But – “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” (from The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer) I just want to drop the pretenses. I know who I am before God; I’m certainly not fooling God. “Before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13) ------------------------- O Lord, have mercy. I may fool myself, but I don’t fool you. You “discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12); “you know my inmost being” (ref. Psalm 139:13-16). Alas, alas. "Woe is me, for I am undone!" (Isaiah 6:5). Not a pretty picture, is it? And yet you won’t let go of me; you won’t leave me to my own devices, no matter how half-hearted I am. O Lord, I only want to know you. And yet I find that the biggest obstacle to my knowing you is. . . myself. I ought to pray, but I am irresolute. Too often, I go through the motions, “warmed from without, but not aflame within” (Imitation of Christ 3:2). And yet, O Lord, you call me on, for reasons I can’t discern, except that your love and mercy are unfathomable. . . ------------------------- (edit April 1; Holy Thursday) A couple more related passages have come to my mind: "I do not understand my own actions, for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. . . For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is the very thing I keep on doing. . . Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, chapter 7) "These two things I know - that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior." (John Newton, author of the hymn Amazing Grace) And that about sums it up. . .