Tuesday, August 19, 2008

True Spirituality in the Moment

[Since moving, I have been more than a little sparse in writing. No bold promises to change that, though, as life is wonderfully busy.]

I've been reading Francis Schaeffer's True Spirituality on and off for a while now. As with all of Schaeffer, the book is excellent. At the end of the second section of the book, Schaeffer very pointedly hits the apex of his development of the Christian life. I quote at length this amazing passage:

We accept Christ as Savior at one moment and our guilt is gone on the basis
of the value of the finished work of Jesus Christ. But after we become
Christians, the moments proceed, the clock continues to tick; and in every
moment of time, our calling is to believe God, raise the empty hands of faith,
and let fruit flow out through us.
Now we have spoken of faith, so let us pause here. Living in the second
half of the twentieth century, we must keep on saying what faith is, in the
biblical sense. Christian faith is never faith in faith. Christian faith is
never without content. Christian faith is never a jump in the dark. Christian
faith is always believing what God has said. And Christian faith rests upon
Christ's finished work on the cross.
The reality of living by faith as though we were already dead, of living by
faith in open communion with God, and then stepping back into the external world
as though we are already raised from the dead, this is not once for all, it is a matter of
moment-by-moment faith, and living moment by moment. This morning's faith will
never do for this noon. The faith of this noon will never do for supper time.
the faith of supper time will never do for the time of going to bed. The faith
of midnight will never do for the next morning. Thank God for the reality for
which were were created, a moment-by-moment communication with God himself. We
should indeed be thankful because the moment-by-moment quality brings the whole thing to
the size which we are, as God has made us.
This being the case, it is obvious that there is no mechanical solution to
true spirituality or the true Christian life. Anything that has the mark of the
mechanical upon it is a mistake. It is not possible to say, read so many of the
chapters of the Bible every day, and you will have this much sanctification. It
is not possible to say, pray so long every day, and you will have a certain
amount of sanctification. It is not possible to add the two together and to say,
you will have this
big a piece of sanctification. This is a purely mechanical solution, and denies
the whole Christian position. For the fact is that the Christian life, true
spirituality, can never have a mechanical solution. The real solution is being
cast up into the moment-by-moment communion, personal communion, with God
himself, and letting Christ's truth flow through me through the agency of the
Holy Spirit.

This idea of Schaeffer's is both freeing and difficult. At least at some point, we all find ourselves desiring a formula for "success." We want to boil it all down to a certain number of minutes reading and studying God's Word and a certain number of minutes in uninterrupted prayer. We want to attend the right number of gatherings with other believers. We want to know how many verses we need to memorize.
It is freeing to think that none of this formulaic thinking is right. At the same time, what Schaeffer is pointing toward is much, much more difficult. Rather than compartmentalizing our spiritual lives, we are to live by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus all day long, evey day. We complain that spending a significant amount of time in God's Word is too difficult, but such a commitment is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to living our faith in Christ.

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