Classic and contemporary excerpts
The Shortest Way Home
A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian. I may repeat “Do as you would be done by” till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbor as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbor as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey him. And so, … we are driven on to something more inward—driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home.
—C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity
We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans … sending us people with claims and petitions.… It is a strange fact that Christians and even ministers frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them. They think they are doing God a service in this, but actually they are disdaining God’s “crooked yet straight path.”
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer The Martyred Christian
The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is its lack of humility. Every seeker after holiness needs to be on his guard, lest unconsciously what was begun in the spirit be perfected in the flesh, and pride creep in where its presence is least expected.
—Andreev Murray Humility, the Beauty of Holiness
Sun Without Sunshine?
Happiness of heart can no more be attained without God than light and sunshine can be had without the sun. Happiness is heavenly born; its aroma is of heaven; it leads to heaven and its emblem is heaven.
On every side, in every part of the universe men and women are seeking happiness and cannot find it because they do not seek it from God.
—from The Notebooks of Father Bernard Vaughan
Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic.… He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of today) free also to believe in them.… Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand.
—G. K. Chesterton Orthodoxy
The Million-Dollar Priorities Mixup
Regarding the latest multimillion-dollar sports contracts.…
It is amazing to me how screwed up the priorities in this country have become. Think of what all that money could mean to people who truly need it—the poor, the sick, and others in unfortunate circumstances.
On the other hand, I guess if I could find someone stupid enough to pay me megabucks to play a game, I’d take the money and run.…
—Terri Smierciak quoted in The Chicago Tribune
Always Praying …
Prayer is political action. Prayer is social energy. Prayer is public good. Far more of our nation’s life is shaped by prayer than is formed by legislation. That we have not collapsed into anarchy is due more to prayer than to the police. Prayer is a sustained and intricate act of patriotism in the largest sense of that word—far more precise, loving, and preserving than any patriotism served up in slogans. That society continues to be livable and that hope continues to be resurgent are attributable to prayer far more than to business prosperity or a flourishing of the arts. The single most important action contributing to whatever health and strength there is in our land is prayer.
—Eugene Peterson Earth and Altar
… It’S The Real Work
It would seem almost self-evident that the organization attempting to be sensitive to its role as part of the kingdom of God should discover times when the most appropriate response is to put aside all normal business and have an extended time of petition and praise!… Most members of a Christian organization will have a strong desire to undergird that organization in prayer at all times. However, if times of corporate prayer are relegated to “after-hours,” the message we transmit is: “The work is more important than prayer. Consequently, we haven’t time to stop working to pray. We’ll have to do that after we’re through working.” You get the point.…
—Ted W. Engstrom and Edward R. Dayton The Christian Executive
Love And Conduct
The story of Christ’s disciples suggests that love and admiration are powerful motives for adopting a person’s values and ideas. By the same token, the combination of teaching, example, and mutual love is most potent in preventing one from going against what this admired individual stands for, even when one is tempted to do so. Thus the most reliable method of instilling desirable values and a discipline based on these values into the minds of our children should be obvious.
—Bruno Bettelheim Atlantic, November 1985
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