Sunday, February 06, 2005

Sunday Morning Thoughts from Blaise Pascal

Romans 7:22-25 (New International Version)

“22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

I read a piece from a blog yesterday about a young man who had jettisoned his Christian faith after some bad experiences over a period of years in a California church. The closing to the piece is especially poignant:

“I close my eyes, trying to imagine the face of Jesus calling me back to the fold. Though I will always love that face, and will honor the wisdom, understanding, and love that it represents to me, I can no longer see it as the face of a savior, offering to transform my wretchedness into a thing of worth. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me ... . I may someday find a church in which I feel comfortable, perhaps I'll even call myself a Christian again. But I will never again believe that I am so wretched that no one but Jesus can love me.
I look back to Johnson.
"Come home," he is offering, his voice lilting and soft. "Come back. It's never too late to reclaim your salvation."
Perhaps he's right. Maybe it's not too late.
But for this particular backslider--having finally grown up out in the big wide messy world--nothing I once clung to within these very walls could ever again be enough.”

The real tragedy in the young man’s story is that there is now little anyone could say or do to help him turn back to the faith of his youth.

While I’m not convinced from what I read that anyone really told him that he was too wretched to love, I am well aware of the tension that his story represents. There’s a fine line here. Paul, the great apostle of our faith lived in that tension. He once described himself as the “chief of sinners.” He saw the inconsistencies in his life. He often failed to do the good that he wanted to do.

But the same Paul who called himself a wretched man could never have been called a man who lived his life as someone who could not hold his head up, someone who was so awful or wretched that he could not function in life. Further, his encouragement to the churches in his care showed that he didn’t think of his fellow Christian pilgrims as wretched worms. He told the church at Ephesus, for example, that they should live a life that was worthy of their high calling. He also brought this message to the church at Colosse.

It’s clear to me from reading Paul’s work that the last thing he wanted the Christian community to do was to live their lives as wretched worms.

I believe balance is the key. Blaise Pascal put it this way:

“Knowing God without knowing our own wretchedness makes for pride.
Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes for despair.
Knowing Jesus Christ strikes the balance because he shows us both God and our own wretchedness.”

There are many things I do that give me cause to feel wretched. Yet, by grace and God’s forgiveness, I press on toward the goal ahead of me in life. I will not let my own failures incapacitate me. I won’t let them derail me. I press on. That’s the Christian life!

My prayer this Sunday morning, dear reader, is that you too will live your life worthy of its calling.


Anonymous said...

The common denominator among those who fail - and maintain that position - is Starvation. The Bread of Life is The Word. Apart from His Word we will fail. Apart from The Word we will partake of man-made opinion and direction and value and its natural consequent.

Maintaining separation from God will be the human pride of exacting 'justice' and egoistic vengeance - a Luciferian schizophrenic rationale.

As creatures possessing a universe-sized Ignorance, a daily consumation of The Word is the solution for every human problem and difficulty. Let us begin and maintain with Him and His. Render... Result? Semper Fidelis Always Faithful

a Choicemaker
Psalm 25:12

Pastor Mike said...