"This church stands here in the name of Christianity. But what is Christianity? I know but one definition. Christianity does not mean what you think or what I think concerning Christ, but who Christ is. . . . I tell you what I have learned only that I may stir you up to ask yourselves, as I ask myself, 'Do I then obey this word? Have I ever, have I once, sought to obey it? Am I a pupil of Jesus? Am I a Christian?' Hear then His words. For me, they fill my heart with doubt and dismay.
"The Lord says, 'Love your enemies.' Do you say, 'It is impossible'? Do you say, 'Alas, I cannot'? But have you tried to see whether He who made you will not increase your strength when you step out to obey Him?
"The Lord says, 'Be perfect.' Do you then aim for perfection, or do you excuse your shortcomings and say, 'To err is human'? If so, then you must ask yourself what part you have in Him.
"The Lord says, 'Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth.' My part is not now to preach against the love of money, but to ask you, 'Are you laying up for yourselves treasures on earth?' As to what the command means, the honest heart and the dishonest must each settle in his own way. No doubt you can point to other men who are no better than you, and of whom yet no one would dare question the validity of their Christianity. But all that matters not a hair. All that does is confirm that you may all be pagans together. Do not mistake me. I am not judging you. For my finger points at myself along with you. But I ask you simply to judge yourselves by the words of Jesus.
"The Lord says, 'Take no thought for your life. Take no thought for tomorrow.' Explain it as you may, but ask yourselves, 'Do I take no thought for my life? Do I take no thought for tomorrow?'
"The Lord says, 'Judge not.' Did you judge your neighbor yesterday? Will you judge him again tomorrow? Are you judging him now in the very heart that sits hearing the words, 'Judge not'? Or do you side-step the command by asking, 'Who is my neighbor?' Does not your own profession of Christianity counsel you to fall upon your face, and cry to him, 'I am a sinful man, O Lord'?
"The Lord said, 'All things you would that men should do to you, do also to them.' You that buy and sell, do you obey this law? Examine yourselves and see. You would want men to deal fairly to you: do you deal just as fairly to them as you would count fairness in them toward you? If conscience makes you hang your head inwardly, however you sit with it erect in the pew, can you dare to add to your crime against the law and the prophets the insult to Christ of calling yourselves His disciples?
" 'Not everyone that says unto me, "Lord, Lord", shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.' "
-from a sermon by fictional character Thomas Wingfold in The Curate's Awakening by George MacDonald pages 104-106
( My apologies for any typos :-) )
I am re-reading one of my favorite fictional books and my favorite book by my favorite author George MacDonald. ;-) And once again I am being challenged and convicted. Is my Christianity real? Am I really living, thinking, breathing, in a way that glorifies my Lord? Do my life patterns reflect Christ in me, or do I act as anyone else in the world would act?
To read my review on the book I quoted from, The Curate's Awakening, click here. And if you can, get a copy. It's one of the best books I've read!! (I'm sure all the self-sufficient, got-it-all-together editors of today would have a hard attack how MacDonald "tells" rather than "shows" and breaks off into what they'd call "lectures" (rather musings on Biblical truth and encouragements to the reader), but if you are interested in growing in your life in Christ and knowing Jesus better, you'll love this book!)