On Monday we drove up to North Jersey for one of our regional conferences with Acts 29 (a network of churches that SMR is apart of). I had many thoughts coming out of the day that I can ramble on and on about. Let me bore you with one of them…
During one of the sessions, the speaker put on the screen this short excerpt from G.K. Chesterton’s, Orthodoxy:
“No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing?”
As you read on in his book, he continues to unpack, in classic G.K. fashion, this dual disposition that we must maintain towards the world we live in: that we need to both love it deeply and hate it with great intensity. What? Yup! If I may illustrate…
My wife often reminds me of my mild OCD tendencies – the avoidance of stepping on lines and cracks on sidewalks, equally numbered motions with my hands and feet, a constant need for balance! The sight of misalignment makes me cringe. This eccentricity coupled with my laziness can lead to uneventful frustration. I hate asymmetry; I love consistency. But when I’m sitting on the couch enjoying the game on a Sunday afternoon, the slightly crooked clock on the wall remains crooked and I continue watching TV. What’s the problem? Why am I not getting up to fix it? Neither my hatred or my love is intense enough. I need both to make a difference.
HATE THE WORLD
What kind of ‘hatred’ for the world is G.K. calling for? Sin has made such a mess of us all. It has ruined people, killed the innocent, and has created addicted sinners. When we look at the world and see all that it has become as a result of the fall, what do we feel? Are we just slightly bothered by it or does it make our blood boil? When we even consider the effects of sin in our own lives and our history, are we passive or furious? Do we hate the world enough to change it?
LOVE THE WORLD
What kind of ‘love’ for the world is G.K. calling for? As we look at this world full of people walking down the tragic road towards hell that the world has paved, do our hearts break? Does love burst forth from our souls that long to save them from their hopeless path? Do we remember what great love Jesus has shown us great sinners (and continues to show us wandering sojourners), delivering us from an eternally awful fate? Do we love the world enough to think it worth changing?
DUAL DISPOSITIONS MEET
This hatred is not one that is violent or condescending. This love is not one that is simply emotional and without action. When both fierce discontentment and fierce affection for the world meet, it engenders within us a fierce living to go forth with the gospel to change the world! We rise and say, “what sin has done to the world is awful and will lead to eternal ruin for people, people that were just like me…the love that Jesus has shown me needs to run through my veins as I love the world and tell them of the great Savior of their souls!”
The idea of loving a world full of sinners is not ours and it’s not G.K.’s, it’s God’s. But God, in his great love for us, did not sit on his hands while weeping for the world. No, he came into the world and became sin on our behalf so we might be saved (2 Cor 5:21). What a gracious God! Friends, he has given us his Spirit to be with us along this journey of bringing the gospel to bear on the lives of others. The greatest possible partner in ministry is ours! And what freedom we have in knowing that this work is not our own, but is his – he is the one who saves!
I leave you with 2 things:
1) A song we sing at SMR that we also sang at the conference. It’s been on my heart ever since as these thoughts have been on my mind and I hope it encourages you: All I Have is Christ
2) A few more lines that followed the quote above from G.K…
“…Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it? In this combination, I maintain, it is the rational optimist who fails, the irrational optimist who succeeds. He is ready to smash the whole universe for the sake of itself.”