Friday, July 27, 2007
LOOK AT LIFE AS GOD SEES IT
Look At Life As God Sees It (Michel Quoist)
'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for if you gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
If you want to be first, you must be the very last, and the servant of all. Whoever is least among you all is the greatest.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
Let God remould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good.
Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him' -- but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
(Isaiah 55:8; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:25; Matthew 16:25-26; Luke 12:22 and 23; Mark 9:35; Luke 9:48; Matthew 5:44-45; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Corinthians 2:9)
Have you read today's newspaper yet? How much of a mention did God get? Probably not a lot. A clergyman in trouble, a religious war, maybe even a scripture verse tucked away amongst the small ads. But no hint that world events and individual lives are acted out in the awesome presence of God. No suggestion that the one in whom we 'live and move and have our being' is directly involved in those situations which are so graphically reported. And maybe that isn't too surprising. As T.S. Eliot said, humankind 'cannot bear very much reality'.
That partial reality seems to come to us from every direction: the media, conversations at work, even our human environment. All, in a fallen world, give us a distorted picture of reality. So, like the navigation system of an aircraft, our map of reality needs constant and conscious correction. Wrong attitudes need to be challenged, existing priorities re-ordered, new values adopted. Only in that way will our map be accurate enough to enable us 'to negotiate the terrain of life' (M. Scott Peck).
God, in his grace, has provided those re-programming opportunities if only we will take them. Meditation on the scriptures, fellowship with the Holy Spirit in us, the re-orientation brought about in our worship together - none of them are new or original. All of them can be empty ritual. But when received gladly they are God's means of helping us to see things as they really are. And that involves no less than us having 'the mind of Christ' (1 Corinthians 2: 16).
Patients tested for glaucoma are shown a circle which represents their visual field and then asked to point out the areas they can see. The disease typically darkens the centre of the field, while leaving some vision on the periphery. The fallen mind's view of the world is like that of a glaucoma patient. Its view of all things is darkened and distorted by sin, but it has a sort of twilight vision of the periphery of life. In the inner circle of ultimate concerns, however, it is in deeper darkness.
Richard Lovelace, Renewal as a Way of Life
[Bubu, a tadpole, argues with a frog about the reality of the world beyond the pond.] Something akin to pity filled the frog's eyes as he looked at him.
'But Bubu,' he said quietly, 'the world up above that I talk about is real. I can't explain it, but in a sense it's more real than the watery universe we live in.' 'More real to you.' 'More real to anybody, Bubu.' 'But not at all real to me.' The frog had lost his bantering manner entirely.
'Bubu, the world would be there whether I could feel it or not. It's still there even though you don't believe in it.'
John White, 'Metamorphosis'
Fortunately, truth does not cease just because people give up believing it.
In 1952 when I was twenty-one and still an atheist studying philosophy at Yale, I picked up a copy of Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain... As I read, my mind became enlightened by the reality of the presence of God . . . it seemed as though a window in the depths of my consciousness, a window I had never seen before, had suddenly been opened, allowing a blazing glimpse of new orders of existence. My mind was suddenly filled with streams of thinking which reordered my understanding around the central fact of God, streams which I knew were not rising from any source within my natural awareness, which now seemed a desert by comparison.
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life
The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
To live in the Spirit is to be agonisingly aware of the contrast between what is and what should be.
The religious man is forever bringing all affairs of the first level down into the Light, holding them there in the Presence, re-seeing them and the whole of the world of men and things in a new and overturning way, and responding to them in spontaneous, incisive and simple ways of love and faith.
Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion
Do we, as Christians, mentally inhabit the world presented to us by the faith of the Church as the real world? Do we mentally inhabit a world with a Heaven above it and a Hell beneath it; a world in which we are called to live daily, hourly, in contact with the God whom neither space nor time can limit? Do we as Christians mentally inhabit an order of being which is superior to decay and death?
Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind
At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.
C.S. Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory'
Where is the reality, Lord? Is it in the hourly radio headlines or the beckoning salesmen or the ambition of my friends? Where is it?
I guess it's the wrong question I've asked. I only know true reality when I think your thoughts, look at the world through your eyes. But how can I do that in the face of the onslaught that hits me every day? Who am I to resist those overpowering voices and listen to you?
Thank you for the fixed points, the times to take stock, to reorder my thinking, to see things as you see them. Forgive me for neglecting those times. And even more, forgive me for avoiding the reality I would rather not face. Help me today to see the world in the light of your truth. Amen.
Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
Then give us power to grasp how long, and high, and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge. Amen.
Rowland Croucher ed., High Mountains Deep Valleys (Albatross/Lion) chapter 42