When I was teaching myself French, using BBC videos, I heard a French monk sum up his life of silence, community, service, work in the sun, prayer, discipline, regularity, simple eating, simple living, no private possessions, saying, “It’s a beautiful life in itself.”
I last read John Piper’s Desiring God when Irene was a baby, so I can’t quote verbatim, but Piper describes a similar statement by a French monk, and then quotes Paul, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” He goes on to say it would be foolish to live a Christian life, and follow Christ, if Christ were not in fact the resurrected Lord.
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In contrast is Puddleglum, the heroic Marshwiggle in The Silver Chair.
Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. . .Then all I can say is, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.
And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just four babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world.
I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can, even if there isn’t any Narnia ’ (The Silver Chair)
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I myself have absolutely no doubt of the existence of God, or of Jesus. And, when it comes down to it, it’s because of personal experience of them.
In one of her videos, American Bible teacher, Beth Moore, says she was asked, “How do you know that Christ is real?” She answered, “If he wasn’t, then I must be crazy, because I talk to him all the time, and he answers.”
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In the unlikely event that all the times small and astonishing miracles happened because I prayed; things changed; people changed; I changed—were just a coincidence; if the times when I came to prayer depressed and beaten down, and left full of joy, if all this too was illusory– it would still be worth following Christ.
Today, I read someone honestly saying what he wished on his high school bullying tormentors:
I used to wish bad things for those guys. I hoped that karma would get them. That they would be impotent. Or in unhappy marriages. Or living miserable lives. I wanted revenge but, alas, vengeance was not mine to be had.
Oh come on! Why would we choose to live in this angry mental state? This horrible turmoil. This impotent hatred. This evil, negative mental state.
How much better to follow Jesus’s instructions to “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who persecute you.”
And be free. And live in a mental state of peace and good will and high energy.
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“Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.”
Even if Jesus were not God, would it not be better for us to be women of your word, to be trusted and relied on, rather than lying, or changing our minds, or whinging our way out of things if something better came along?
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“Do not worry. Do not be afraid, ” Jesus says many times, in many ways. “I have worried about many things in my life, most of which never happened,” said Mark Twain. So have I. So have you. Wouldn’t it be better not to worry about many things most of which never happen–whether Jesus were God, or not?
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Gentleness–Jesus teaches. The Kingdom of God is within us, and so preserve your peace, and sweetness. Let there be honey within your soul.
Gentleness, he preaches: If someone forces you to go one mile, go two. If someone slaps you, don’t slap him back. He would retaliate, and you would both be bruised. Gently turn the other cheek.
Oh all this is sublime, almost to the point of insanity. Sublime, and wise. Isn’t it better to march two miles in love, and prayer, than one in hatred and resentment? Isn’t it better to have one hard, and one gentler slap, than retaliate, and end up with broken bones?
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Oh Jesus, you are sublime, and you are wise, and you are brilliant, and it makes total sense to follow you teachings whether you are God, or not.
But, oh, how delighted I am that you are indeed my Lord, and my God!