Books

More on Forgiveness . . . from MLK

I promised more on the subject of forgiveness and here it is. Continuing from the book I had mentioned in my last post, Why Forgive? by Johann Christoph Arnold, here are a few thoughts from Martin Luther King, Jr. These can be found in King’s book, Strength to Love. So if you want to read more of King’s thoughts, check out the book from your local library or find it online from Amazon or Half.com. Here’s King,

Probably no admonition of Jesus has been more difficult to follow than the command to love our enemies. Some people have sincerely felt that its actual practice is not possible. It is easy, they say, to love those who love your, but how can one love those who openly and insidiously seek to defeat you?

Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, the command to love one’s enemy is an absolute necessity for our survival. Love even for our enemies is the key to the solution of the problems of our world. Jesus is not the impractical idealist; he is the practical realist . . . (emphasis mine)

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction . . .

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity. By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power.

He goes on . . .

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. Whoever is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one’s enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us.

It is also necessary to realize that the forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of some great hurt, the recipient of some tortuous injustice, the absorber of some terrible act of oppression. . . . only the injured neighbor . . . can really pour out the warm waters of forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start.

To our most bitter opponents we say: We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you.

For King, his focus was on civil rights and the extreme social resistance that he and his followers met. In our time, civil rights is not the hot button topic that it was in the ’50s and ’60s. Rather, we see and hear of an increasing amount of violent acts. Just this past week, a gunmen boarded a train travelling from Amsterdam to France with the intention of committing terrible violence to innocent people. This type of violence is, unfortunately, happening more frequently. From Aurora, Colorado to Sandy Hook, New Jersey and beyond, violence and its motivators of hate and evil are increasing. Amidst the encircling darkness must be a light that shows the path to a better way. As King said, only love can drive out hate. Nothing else will. And as Christians, we are called to show that love. Go light your love-light and . .

. . . love freely. Love boldly. Love the Father’s love in your world today. The world needs that type of love. Will you love?

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Can You Really Embrace Such a Prayer?

As I sit to write a blog post, my first in about sixteen months, there are no giddy, excited thoughts about a return to blogging. Disclaimer: that does not mean I do not like writing or thinking! I’ve done a bit of that, just not publicly. Rather, I think that blogging is a luxury. It’s what people do when they want to share their thoughts with the world and have time to do so. Maybe they are tired of their hobbies and need a break. Maybe they . . . oh, whatever. Let’s let them have their own reasons for why they write. We do not have to agree with the bloggers we read. I certainly don’t and I expect that some people will object to how I run my blog. Now where was I?

Blogging as a leisurely luxury . . . yes, of that I’m convinced. Sometime, I might get around to writing about why I took up my metaphorical writer’s pen but not today.

Today’s content comes from the book I’m currently reading. Continue reading

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C.S. Lewis: On Charity

One of the great parts about the life of a student is being forced to read books you otherwise may not have read. Mere Christianity is one such book. I probably would have read it based on the recommendations of my friends, but I’m getting far more out of the book than I think I would have otherwise. Anyway, it blessed me again so here’s a bit of Lewis to brighten your day. Lewis on charity:

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not wast time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as  if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less. There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude’, you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.) But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more, or at least, to dislike it less.

Consequently, though Christian charity sounds a very cold thing to people whose heads are full of sentimentality, and though it is quite distinct from affection, yet it leads to affection. The difference between a Christian and a worldly man is not that the worldly man has only affections or ‘likings’ and the Christian has only ‘charity’. The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on – including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.

At the risk of quoting the entire book, I will quit. But really, you should read the entire book.

EJ 

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A Quote from Mere Christianity

Repentance means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part o yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person — and he would not need it.

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, page 57

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What Is the Church Offering?

A divided, split and fighting church has nothing to say or to give to a divided, broken and violent world. An immoral church has nothing to say to an immoral world. A church riddled with corruption, caste discrimination and other forms of social, ethnic, or gender oppression has nothing to say to the world where such things are rampant. A church with leaders seemingly obsessed with wealth and power has nothing to say to a world of greedy tyrants. A church that is bad news in such ways has no good news to share. Or at least, it has, but its words are drowned out by its life.

This does not mean, of course, that the church has to be morally perfect before anybody can engage in mission. If that were so, no mission would ever have happened, for even the church in the New Testament was all too human and flawed. The point is: What is our goal? Where is our heart? Are we obsessed with making converts only, or are we committed to teaching God’s people to walk in his ways, so that the nations are blessed?

Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God’s People, pp 94-95

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More from “It’s Not About Me”

A while ago, I began Max Lucado’s book, It’s Not About Me. Though it is a short book, it is chock full of illustrations and arguments for reflecting God’s glory. I had posted earlier here about this book but here is more. Enjoy!

The moon models our role.

What does the moon do? She generates no light. Contrary to the lyrics of the song, this harvest moon cannot shine on. Apart from the sun, the moon is nothing more than a pitch-black, pockmarked rock. But properly positioned, the moon beams. Let her do what she was made to do, and a clod of dirt becomes a source of inspiration, yea, verily, romance. The moon reflects the greater light.

And she’s happy to do so! You never hear the moon complaining. She makes no waves about making waves. Let the cow jump over her or astronauts step on her; she never objects. Even though sunning is accepted while mooning is the butt of bad jokes, you won’t hear ol’ Cheeseface grumble. The moon is at peace in her place. And because she is, soft light touches a dark earth.

What would happen if we accepted our place as Son reflectors?

EJ

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It’s Not About Me

Having finished Carter Conlon’s book, I picked up another one that I had purchased some months ago but have never gotten around to finishing. It’s another delightful, little, book and if you’ve struggled with pride, feeling superior, or that everything should go YOUR way, this one is for you. Entitled “It’s Not About Me” by Max Lucado, the message is hard hitting. Here’s a tiny morsel from pages 5-6

When God looks at the center of the universe, he doesn’t look at you. When heaven’s stagehands direct the spotlight toward the star of the show, I need no sunglasses. No light falls on me.

Lesser orbs, that’s us. Appreciated. Valued. Loved dearly. But central? Essential? Pivotal? Nope…Contrary to the Ptolemy within us, the world does not revolve around us. Our comfort is not God’s priority. If it is, something’s gone awry. If we are the marquee event, how do we explain…challenges like death, disease, slumping economies, or earthquakes? If God exists to please us, then shouldn’t we always be pleased?

God does not exist to make a big deal out of us. We exist to make a big deal out of him. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s all about him.

Well, at the risk of directly transcribing the whole book, I need to stop. There’s another excerpt coming tomorrow but do yourself a favor and buy the book. It really is that good.

EJ

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A Quote For Today

God wants us to humbly surrender ourselvs. I like the hymn “Channels Only.” We’re not reservoirs, but channels. We’re not power plants, but transmission lines. God has the power, God is the reservoir, and we should surrender ourselves to Him so He can work through us.
From page 198 of “The Adventure of Discipling Others”

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An excerpt from ‘Fear Not’

When we abandon the cross and all that it requires of us, refusing to take it up daily and follow Jesus as He followed His Father, we end up with an illusion of victory

Reading Carter Conlon’s lovely little fear squelcher, appropriately titled Fear Not, I lit upon this line and it blessed me. How many times do attempt to do things by ourselves and deceive ourselves thinking that we will succeed? We only end up with a fleeting glimpse of victory and often frustration.

EJ

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Love…A Practical Sacrifice

The love for God in the first commandment is made ‘practical’ in the love for our neighbors in the second commandment.
True love is all about ‘sacrifice’ for the sake of the ones you love.

Ah, the feeling of being back in the saddle, of books, studies, and homework. Last night, I was reading for the class Discipleship in the Local Church and these two statements attracted my attention. I think the two key words are practical and sacrifice. Put the two together and you have ‘practical sacrifice’. I like that idea. Love can expressed in a grand fashion and with deep emotion; however, in daily life, it is most often expressed in the idea of ‘practical sacrifice’. A giving up in a practical sense; I lay down my ideas in favor for someone else’s ideas. A visible expression of charity.

Blessings,

EJ

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