Greetings beloveds! I have been inspired these days by James to use the word “beloved.” Not only does he say “brothers and sisters,” but he prefaces it with beloved. I want to follow him in that way.
I’m reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. It’s based on the sermon series he did with his wife, Kathy, back in the 90’s. I listened to those sermons on tape at L’Abri with Emma and Fruzina. I remember it was in the late afternoon. The sun was going down, we were lying on the floor at Farel House, fighting off sleep and soaking in Keller’s wisdom. The memory is a fond one–growing in wisdom with good friends, what could be better? It’s good to encounter the material again, with a little more alertness, as I have to write a paper on it. 🙂
This passage struck me tonight:
“Some years ago, a man who regularly listened to my preaching made a shrewd observation. He said, “When you are well prepared for your sermon, you cite a great variety of sources, but when you aren’t well prepared, you just quote C.S. Lewis.” He was right. The reason for that is that I have over the years read virtually everything of Lewis that is in print. When I first became a Christian believer, his writings spoke to my questions and concerns more than any other. So I have continually, repeatedly, read his writings until I can recite dozens of passages by heart. I have also read several biographies and lots of personal letters.
When you dive that deeply into the life and works of a single figure, something interesting happens. You don’t just get to know his writings; you get to know how his mind works. You come to know what he would have said in answer to a particular question or how he would have responded to a particular incident. The reason that, when I have to speak off the cuff, C.S. Lewis just comes pouring out is because, as it were, he is in there, he is part of my thought life.
What, then, would the effect be if we were to dive even more deeply into Jesus’s teaching and life and work? What if we were to be so immersed in his promises and summonses, his counsels, and encouragements, that they dominated our inner life, capturing our imagination, and simply bubbled out spontaneously when we faced some challenge? How would we live if we instinctively, almost unconsciously, knew Jesus’s mind and heart regarding things that confronted us? When you received criticism, you would never be crushed, because Jesus’s love and acceptance of you is so deeply “in there.” When you gave criticism, you would be gentle and patient, because your whole inner world would be saturated by a sense of Jesus’s loving patience and gentleness with you (73-74).”
Beloveds, I hope you didn’t peter out at the end because the 3rd paragraph is my favorite. It’s a great practical vision about having the gospel “dwell in our hearts richly” (Col. 3:16). This excerpt reminds me of conversations I had at Wheaton with my friends in Acting Shakespeare class. We memorized “clumps” of Shakespeare weekly; the rich words lived within us and we loved knowing Shakespeare intimately through text. We would do improv with each other, overlapping lines of text, taking phrases out of context, creating new funny situations. Outside walking between classes in the Chicago bitter cold I’d say, “On the third day comes a killing frost!” We made Shakespeare our own, and we felt empowered. But then, we took it a step further and grieved over our sorry amount of Scripture stored within us. We said, “What if we memorized “clumps” of Scripture weekly, how different would we be?” For then, not only would the words owned be Truth itself, but they are accompanied by Jesus’s Spirit that illumines hearts.
My first Scripture clump: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Exodus 34:6-7a…the best part about this is it’s God describing himself. It’s not our guess of who he is, this is how he defines himself, accenting his compassion and love first, before his justice. Mmm, dat’s good.