Jesus said, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God.” (Luke 11:42)
Over the past few weeks, discussions in my “The Men’s Room” small group have been anchored in the writings of C.S. Lewis. We also read scripture, share from our lives, and pray for one another; but the topics have all come from our C.S. Lewis “sampler,” Readings for Meditation and Reflection.
TRANSCENDENCE: One idea this week had to do with the difference between looking “at” and looking “along,” a perspective that can only be achieved by entering into an experience.
Lewis’s illustration was a beam of sunlight he had seen in a toolshed. Looking at the beam of light revealed little but the stark contrast between light and darkness (as well a a lot of dust!). However, when he stood in the light, looking along the light, Lewis could see all the way to the outside of the shed, to the leaves of the tree and beyond, and “ninety-odd million miles away, the sun.”
And so my men’s group talked about the way that “entering in” to a spiritual life with God can transcend the often poorly designed structure that is apparent from the outside. The external view often focuses on flawed human institutions, personalities, hypocrisies, legalism, religious obligations, conflicts, misunderstandings, and all the variations of interpretation when it comes to reading scriptures…
…Whereas, once we step into the light, once we set aside everything that distracts, once we come to the realization that, at the essence of faith, what we really want and need is to see Jesus, then we are no longer simply looking at the shaft of light but we have entered into the light, and the light has commenced to take up residence in the core of our nature.
BORN FROM ABOVE: When that happens, when God has been (and constantly is) so welcomed, then the imbalance that Jesus referenced (“you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God”) will begin to disappear.
However, if we fail to invite Jesus to live in us, and to transform us with his kind of life, then even the practice of justice will default to legalism and we will have missed the point.
THE POINT: And the point, of course, is that Jesus invites us to participate in the ongoing work of God. That’s what the word “salvation” really means. It means that we live into the fact of God’s love for us and the fact of God’s love for this world through us. We don’t stand outside anymore, admiring the light; we step into the light, invite the light into our deepest places, and then live as Children of the Light.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth). – Ephesians 5:8-9
In love, and because of love – DEREK