When the light becomes brighter - the loss of illusion.
"Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to test our faith. If our faith is worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not: The imitation gem dreads being touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith that can only trust God when friends are true, the body is healthy, and the business profitable; but it is true faith that rests in the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are gone, the body is ailing, spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father’s face is hidden. A faith that can say, in the deepest trouble, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him”1 is heaven-born faith. The Lord afflicts His servants to glorify Himself, for He is greatly glorified in the graces of His people, who are His own handiwork. When “suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope,”2 the Lord is honored by these growing virtues. We would never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched, nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress, nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten, nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not completely consumed. The wisdom and power of God are discovered by the trials through which His children are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shade in the picture to bring out the beauty of the light. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? Will peace not be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after labor? Will the recollection of past sufferings not serve to enhance the bliss of the glorified?" (Spurgeon, Morning and evening)
My dear friends, dear women of God,
the third Advent, and the light is growing brighter. It shines in the darkness, penetrates it, brings hope, life, truth.
Shadows must give way, the darkness does not endure, but reveals what lies hidden within.
"Bringing light into the darkness" -we all know this saying. It means to speak clarity into a network of lies, illusions, confusions and fear, to speak truth so that the path on which one has lost his way can give way to peace again.
Today I find it difficult to find the right words.
For the past three days, my silent prayer has been that God would save me from roles I play. That I may acknowledge that I am shaken in the deepest recesses of my soul by experienced deception, pretense and lies. What is called "whitewashing" - to brush over, to play down - has long since become socially acceptable. A little white lie here, a bit of feigned friendliness there, spiced with exaggeration and pathetic self-exaggeration - "that's what we all do." Often people don't lie out of bad motives at all, but rather according to the motto: "The end justifies the means." Three conversions in an evangelism tent become 100, so that the donations flow. One spontaneous healing becomes a whole healing ministry. One real vision becomes thousands.
Value has only what is as much as possible, has much to show and shows constancy - no roller coaster, but (eel)-smooth sovereignty. Value has what offers as much action as possible, and what awakens the heroic epic in us- yes, makes us heroes and the Holy Spirit our personal superpower filling station.
Yesterday we watched a movie.
I'm currently reading "The Chronicles of Narnia" with my son-and we're on the fourth volume, "Prince Caspian"-just before the victorious battle for his kingdom.
My son couldn't calm down at all: "That's different! But it doesn't say that in the book! It's just a battle here! Huh? Why are they here already, they will come later? Why are they attacking the castle, why, why, why...and what about the back story?" His conclusion was a staggering one: "This movie was really, really bad!" I said to him that this is just the difference between a good book and a film adaptation. The film version gives people what they want to see-at the expense of what the story is really saying. I confess: the second part of the Narnia film really had nothing to do with C.S. Lewis.
Many years ago I was at a Christian leadership school in New Zealand.
In one day the whole illusion world collapsed and my trust was unalterably destroyed. I heard a sermon from the leader that Sunday morning- and was looking forward to it. But when I heard the sermon word for word, including the jokes, the little turns of phrase, when I realized that everything was scripted by the second, I could no longer take anything seriously. When a sermon becomes an act, a play, what is truth? What moves the person who is standing there in front of me? What does he really believe? If, in addition, this play is so well rehearsed that one has bought the role as genuine and authentic the first time, then one feels cheated. Cheated of authenticity, truth, and the space that the Holy Spirit occupies when we humbly step behind Him.
No, what they say, those who play a role on the stage, is not necessarily false. But it is just that what hides the true essence is suspect. Why does someone "stonewall" in front of siblings? Why does someone hide his true identity behind pseudonyms, behind an impenetrable wall of pretense? WHAT is being hidden? And what on earth- what is it that lurks behind it? What motives? What attitude of heart? How do you believe someone who expresses sympathy for you, when you know that the role-playing and script are already so ingrained in you that the true voice behind it is glazed over, hidden- and the true identity is a secret one? What is in question is credibility. The trustworthiness: "He who lies once is not believed even if he speaks the truth".
The damage is great- the damage that comes from PR, image building and rehearsed stage shows.
I never understood why in the early church actors were on the list of those allowed to join the church only if they resigned their profession. I think I am beginning to understand. The damage done by played roles and jugglery- it is just too great, for both sides:
Those who confuse the played role with the truth- and for those who have to maintain that role- no matter what is going on inside them, where they stand, and how they live.
Self-denial does not mean role-playing.
Self-denial does not mean putting another truth above your own.
Self-denial does not mean saying anything other than what you really want to say.
Self-denial- it means changing one's own beliefs in favor of Christ. Self-denial means to let one's truth take the place of one's own convictions. It means self-overcoming, correcting, turning away, testing, healing.
It means acknowledging that we are reaching our limits, communicating it, exposing our anger, confusion, not understanding, hatred, and dislikes before Him, and asking that He change us, teach us, and lead us into truth. And the change will be a visible one.
Forgiveness- it has consequences.
What is actually harmful about the Gnostic worldview that was so prevalent in the churches of Acts? Well, one separated his worldly life from his spiritual life. One rejected the flesh, and thought that what one lived did not have to match one's spiritual reality and identity. One refused to live in this world, to have a share, to carry the light into the world that is Jesus. To live according to his principles. One thought that "in the flesh" one could go to prostitutes, because "the spiritual man" had nothing in common with the flesh.
This gnosticism creates...a double life.
But man is a soul. Our experience of God, our real reality- our new spirit, it must bear fruit in our concrete life. Bring about change. It has consequences, visible consequences. No place for role-playing and evasion. Because Jesus is real - and if we want to live him, we have to be - without pretense. Without sensationalism. Without script. So that the Holy Spirit has room to be strong in our weaknesses.
Someone once said that we are all amphibians who can live in both worlds.
What he meant, and I am convinced of this, is that we are always both human and spirit. No matter where we go. And that what the spirit does is expressed in the world. He had understood something that is true. We are not on this earth to reject it, but to carry Jesus' salvation into it. Without judging on the outside, and on the inside...with mercy.
May his light become brighter in us. Until we are transparent and real- with all that we are. So that we witness unveiled his glory as a living letter.
What would Jesus do? May we do the same.
Sibyl/Daughter of Zion.