Cornerstone

"I want writing that will change me; that will give me a sun or a map."

I have an App that puts a different quotation by Dr. C. S. Lewis on my phone every day. Ah, the world we live in. I guess it will soon be on my watch, and in the near future will just float in the air in front of me. If at that point I ignore you because his words are in the air all around, I beg your indulgence and forgiveness. He has a way of calling me to understand and live my faith that works for me.

One of my favorite Lewis quotations is, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

I love Lewis' use of the Sun as both a thing itself and the source of light that illuminates every other thing we see. How perfect for explaining exactly how our faith affects the way we see the world. God has gifted many writers with the talent of explaining and clarifying the aspects of Scripture we often fail to grasp. I'm thankful for every one of them that has gone through the hard work of using their gift well.

As we are studying through Paul's letter to the Ephesians, I have been impressed by the depth one commentary by Klyne Snodgrass. His remarks about the use Paul makes of the much-repeated phrase “…in Christ…”are more than just helpful. Here's a sample:

“It becomes increasingly difficult to say, ’I know I live in Christ, but I’m going to do the opposite of what Christ expects.’”

…and…

“Christians must live out of their environment, out of an inner definition that comes from being in Christ and empowered by his Spirit."

…and…

“If we emphasize only that Christ is in us, we define reality and Christ is about one inch tall. If we realize we are in Christ, he determines reality…”

…and…

"Being in Christ is another way to talk about the fact that Jesus is Lord. He determines our being."

See what I mean? With the same illustrative genius as Lewis, he takes a recurring phrase that could leave me puzzled by its meaning, and creates a map for exploring all of life - all of my life as I live it day by day..."in Christ..." or, not.

Well-thought-out writing with carefully composed sentences lights up what was dark, or creates a map to clarify direction.

It wasn’t just the advent of the internet that fostered miles of words with inches of meaning. King Solomon complained of the making of many books and the weary task of studying them. (Eccl. 12:12) Tons of tree pulp has been used to inundate us with shallow subject matter for centuries. Reading for entertainment has its place, and I readily admit there are days when I have to prop myself up with a cup of Pastor Brian’s strong coffee before I can bite into deeper stuff. And there are people who would judge what I find “deep” only a wading pool.

But I want writing that will change me; that will give me a sun or a map.

What happens when truth is clarified? First I am hungry for it. Then I am challenged by it. Then I find it overwhelming. Then I hide from it. Finally I sigh and follow it, changing my ways or my thinking or my heart-understanding of how life really works to accord with my newly-acquired wisdom. These are the stages of serious “devotional” reading for me.

The questions we ask ourselves as Jesus-followers are many, but most of them center around this: "If what I just read is true, then how am I to live it out?”

As with Lewis, sometimes I look at the sun and say, “That’s the sun.” Sometimes I look around and say, “But for the presence and ministry of the sun, I would not know all of this is here.”

As with Snodgrass, I look at the map and say, "This is how I should go forward.” Or I look at the road ahead and say, "But for the map I would go the wrong way, because the wrong way so easily looks right at the start.”

One of the plethora of things I thank God for is teachers who are writers, and take their craft and wisdom seriously and generously.

Jim Leonard

Jim serves Cornerstone through pastoral care and by overseeing internal ministries and administration.

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