This morning I’m thinking about the long study my Wednesday men’s group just wrapped up on C.S. Lewis’s classic book Mere Christianity. Over the past couple of weeks we talked about the chapters on Hope and Faith and the discussion was – as always – deep, intelligent, inspirational, and illuminating.
Each gathering of men is completely unique in its composition. That is one of the beautiful truths about learning, and how faith interacts with the multitude of variables each person brings to the table. First, there is the self God created, then add age, profession, family, education, where and how we are raised, who we marry, our children, jobs, travel, economics, books we have read, church and denominational history, friends, health – and so much more.
(That list was literally “stream of consciousness” and doesn’t begin to cover the wide scope of factors that impact who any one individual is when they walk into my discussion and what God can teach me through them if only I learn to listen.)
Band of Brothers:
Last night’s group included a manufacturing consultant, an entrepreneur, an insurance executive, a scientist, an educator, an information technology engineer, an inventor, a horticulturist, a coach, a small-business owner, and an author. Raised in a variety of religious traditions, they have lived all over America and the world. All are very well educated and some have doctoral degrees.
In addition to everything that defines each man’s history, day to day life dishes out interactions with people, opportunities, emergencies, problems, temporary challenges, long-term health issues (maybe a spouse fighting cancer), crises at work, personal triumphs, encounters with the divine.
And then, carrying all this and so much more, we gather around a table with the common goal of encouraging one another to be more faithful disciples, to learn more about each other, and to take a few more steps down the road together as a band of brothers, pilgrims following Jesus.
We gather around a table with the common goal of encouraging one another to be more faithful disciples… to take a few more steps down the road together as a band of brothers, pilgrims following Jesus.
What is Faith?
Faith, the writer of Hebrews points out, “is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see… By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible…” (Hebrews 11:1-3)
There is a great paragraph from Mere Christianity where Lewis talks about straining to peer beyond the rim of the earth to see what we know to be true yet remains unseen. I would put it this way: That there is a moment both before the dawn and after sunset where light is present even though the sun is beyond our view. Or this: We cannot look into the sun because it would destroy our sight yet that same light is what enables us to see at all.
It is the light of God that we yearn for, thirsty for living water and hungry for the bread of life. Faith comes when we understand that we are not capable of engaging with such pure light via our own efforts and – in consequence – we must accept the invitation of Jesus to step into the light with him. Then, rather than “religiously” acting justly and practicing mercy in order to earn God’s love… we simply live rightly because we are so loved, a natural response to walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
No formulaic set of answers – just “Come”:
There is no formulaic set of correct answers for the staggering diversity of human creation, personality, background, relationships, and life experience. But this is what is so wonderful about the light, the gospel, the good news of God’s love in Jesus: Jesus meets each one of us exactly where we are and extends this simple invitation: “Come.”
- “Come, eat.” I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.
- “Come, drink.” The water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
- “Come, follow.” Deny yourselves, take up your cross daily and follow me.
- “Come, enter.” I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.
- “Come, and have dinner with me.” I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
- “Come, all who are weary and burdened.” Come… and you will find rest for your souls.
It is a beautiful journey – DEREK