thoughts to action

If you’ve ever read C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters you know of the conversations between Screwtape and Wormwood.  These were two devil’s who were trying to keep a person away from the enemy’s (God’s) control. One of their fictitious conversations has been so powerful to me for a few reasons.  One, the book was published in 1942 and this particular conversation shows the relevance of the issue today.  Two, the book contains a lot of satire and in the conversations that are happening heaps of truth flow out.

“A few centuries earlier, humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it.  They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as a result of a chain of reasoning. But with the weekly press and other such weapons, we have largely altered that…your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head.  He doesn’t think of doctrines as ‘primarily’ true or ‘false’ but as ‘academic’ or ‘practical’, ‘outworn’ or ‘contemporary’, ‘conventional’, or ‘ruthless’. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church.” -Screwtape Letters, P7-8.

Many of us have deeply held beliefs on who God is or who Jesus might be.  Some have deep beliefs on what God calls them to do with life.  Many hold these beliefs but not very many people act according to their beliefs.  It is the origin of Gandhi’s comment, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

I love the religious scholar who came to ask Jesus what the greatest law was.  I like him because I can relate to his struggle.  You probably know the way Jesus responded, he threw the question back on the scholar and the young man answered correctly and Jesus said, “do this and you shall live.”  Jesus didn’t say, “believe” this or “think” this and you shall live.  Jesus’ command was to do.  He was saying, “Live out what you believe.”  To be clear, you must believe it and do it, Jesus was recognizing that the man already believed this command and he was telling him to act on his belief.

We no longer live in a world where the church that simply believes will make the world a better place.  The church with a passion to live out their beliefs will transform lives and the world.  I wish this were a new critique of the church.  I wish that this problem was an unfolding trend, but it is nowhere near that.  CS Lewis nailed it down in the 40’s; Gandhi got it a little earlier.  Jesus was trying to tell the people of the first century.  This is nothing new.

What the church needs now is a courageous bunch who will decide to live messy lives.  We need a bunch of people who are willing to lay their ego down and be forgiving in an unforgiving world.  We need a courageous group who will live out their beliefs; otherwise the Ecclesia of Christ will be lost to oblivion.

Is that you?

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