Maybe Not a Stone

My television now includes an explicitly pagan channel.  I suppose that’s fair, I’ve had a few explicitly Christian channels for a while.  I’m only startled that I see advertisements for it everywhere.  Again, not because it shouldn’t advertise, but because it seems to have gone from no presence to ubiquitous presence in about a week.

Maybe I just didn’t notice it before.  I am not the most observant of people.  Or at least, I can only be relied upon to observe a certain class of things.

In any event, if you want to be pagan, there’s now a channel for you in my area.  It will probably be encouraging and attractive.  It will likely lure people into pagan practices that they don’t realize are pagan practices.  None of this is surprising.

I feel this way about heresy, too.  All heresies are attractive in some way–although sometimes that attraction is baffling for those aware of the truth–and they lure people into heretical belief and practice that they may not realize is heretical.  None of this is surprising either.

Nor is it surprising that they’re numerous.  Nor that they’re successful.  Nor that everywhere Christians seem to abandon the Truth in favor of them.

It’s not surprising because it’s been happening since the beginning.  The surprising thing is that in spite of the constant assault, the constant temptation, the constant misunderstandings, the Church has managed to survive for two thousand years and has pretty much believed the same thing for that entire time.

In one of his books, Chesterton talks about how every generation or two it seems like the Church is dying.  It seems like the dreams of our opponents are going to be realized, and that this ponderous and objectionable thing might finally fade from the earth.  But it never does; it is sustained from without.

That last is the sort of thing I’m inclined to forget.  I get passionate about few things more than the refutation of error.  I’m not particularly good at it, but I’m passionate about it.  Mostly though I’m passionate because I’m afraid.  I’m afraid that people will be led away from the Truth and that the Truth will pass away.

Now, there’s an obvious verse to quote here, so I’ll avoid it because it’s obvious.  Instead let me quote another:  “But Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out'” (Luke 19:40).

If it were to happen that the entire Church were to embrace error, or to abandon Christ in favor of some other lesser (and imagined) god, “the stones [would] cry out,” and possibly begin by scolding us.  Christ will have his Church.

Now as it happens, he has graciously decided to include us in it, rather than stones.  And it seems that he is able to sustain us in spite of every challenge, so that passing away becomes less likely with each passing century rather than more likely.

It is of course therefore not my responsibility to guarantee that the good news of Christ is faithfully delivered to the future.  It might be my responsibility to deliver it to one area.  It might be my responsibility to say whether the news delivered to that area is in fact the Good News.  But the guarantor of the whole (and the future) is Christ; I am at best his clumsy servant.

Or, to put it another and likely less misleading way, it isn’t my job to worry about the war, only to fight to the best of my abilities in the battle I’m given.  It is not my job to guard the entire building, merely to watch the door which is my station.  It does no good for me to worry about the rest anyway, but more importantly I should remember that the rest has been faithfully handled for thousands of years, and that the state of the rest depends (thankfully) on someone better than me.

Maybe in fact I should be surprised that the better someone has entrusted me even with a door or a single battle.  I can’t say it speaks highly of his judgment, but maybe his judgment about me is better than mine, in the similar way that his judgment about everything else is.  Or of course he has chosen the fool and the weak, and all the better for him.

In any event, I’m out of time again.  Here I will take a small liberty.  You have read my writing, and my writing is in me.  As such you have come into my house, which it is in my authority to govern.  I use that authority in this way:

The LORD bless you and keep you.
The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

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