“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teachings you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
John 8: 31 – 32 (New International Version)
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.”
“What if everyone always tell the truth and does not lie. What would the world be like?” This was the question I asked Lyn, my wife, one breakfast morning. Her reply was short and profound, “Heaven” I agreed with her and we really had an enjoyable breakfast table conversation that day. I will not forget that day so I thought of writing about it.
Why did that experience linger in my mind and why I continue to remember it? Because I heard the words of our conversation and I felt the wonder of hearing her short but very profound answer to my question, “Heaven.” Maybe it should be written like, “Heaven!” The apostrophe gave the emphasis on the power and aliveness of the word, “heaven”
This is actually not a new idea. It is more than a new idea but an ancient truth, I should say. Why? Because King David wrote a psalm about this and it is one of my favorite psalms that he has written. I memorized it too!
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
Yes, I heard and felt the power of that words, “Heaven!” and David’s description of a “sacred tent and a holy mountain”. But did I see it too?
I should say, Yes and No. I say, “Yes” because I saw it in people whom I have met and became part of my life. I say “No” because I also met people who is nowhere near like the person described in this psalm of David.
But when you meet this kind person who speaks the truth from his heart and has not slander in his tongue and you allowed him a space in your life, you will never be the same person again. You will be changed forever!
Because of this experience you will begin to believe that there are really saints and sinners in this world and that there is such a true Christian or a practicing Christian and one who is not a practicing Christian.
Is there really such a person? Can we believe somebody describing one person as, “He is a true Christian or a real practicing Christian?”
I found the answer to this question in a small book, ”C. S. Lewis, The Grand Miracles and Other Selected Essays on Theology and Ethics from God in the Dock” edited by Walter Hooper.
The essay was “Answers to Questions on Christianity” and the question asked of Lewis was, “Will you please say how would you define a practicing Christian? Are there any varieties?”
I quote verbatim Lewis’ answer to the question. I want you to imagine the tone of voice of Lewis in his usual wit and humor responding as follows:
“Certainly there are a great many other varieties. It depends of course on what you mean by “practicing Christian.” If you mean one who has practiced Christianity in every respect, at every moment of his life, then there is only one on record – Christ Himself. In that sense there are no practicing Christians, but Christians who, in varying degrees try to practice it and fail in varying degrees and then start again. A perfect practice of Christianity would, of course, consist in the perfect imitation of the life of Christ – I mean, in so far as it is applicable in one’s own particular circumstances. Not in an idiotic sense – it doesn’t mean that every Christian should grow a beard, or become a bachelor or become a traveling preacher. It means that every single act and feeling, every experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant, must be referred to God. It means looking at everything as something that comes from Him, and always looking to Him and asking His will first, and saying: “How would He wish me to deal with this?”
A kind of picture or pattern (in a very remote way) of the perfect relation between the perfect Christian and his God would be relation of the good dog to its master. This is only a very imperfect picture, though, because the dog hasn’t reason, even if an imperfect and uninterrupted way (“uninterrupted” because we don’t think rationally for very long at a time – its too tiring – and we haven’t information to understand things fully, and our intelligence itself has certain limitations). In that way we are more like God than the dog is like us, though of course, there are other ways in which the dog is more like us than we are like God. It is only an illustration.
Did you hear and feel Lewis’ brilliant response to the question? Did you notice his excellent use of words like “perfect/imperfect” and contrasting phrases like “more like God than the dog is like us/the dog is more like us than we are like God”?
I also found very intriguing his closing sentence in, “It is only an illustration.”
I really thought that he would close his answer to the question with a question like, “Are we more like God or dog?” or maybe a challenge to the questioner and even listeners to his answer like, “Think of your life experiences when you were more like God and when you are more like the dog. Do this in pairs.”
I am not C. S. Lewis and I am sure that he is much wiser than I am so let us put the “period” on his answer to the question.
But there is one Person, I know, who is wiser than Lewis and any other person who has ever lived on this planet earth. C. S. Lewis described Him as the only practicing Christian, Christ Himself.
An Arabian proverb speaks of the Wise person as:
“He who knows not and knows not that he knows not, he is a fool, shun him;
He who knows and knows not that he knows, he is asleep, wake him up;
He who knows not and knows that he knows not, he is humble, teach him;
He who knows and knows that he knows, he is wise, follow him.”
Have you met this wise Person? Do you know Him? Do you believe Him?
What if you believe Him? What if you believe the Truth?