TO KEEP IT FROM FUNCTIONING NATURALLY

Photo by Tracey Lewis "Mister" acting naturally

We return to the passage upon which we are meditating: “And his commandments are not burdensome.” We have seen that His commandments are not burdensome, since what He commands is what we are made in our inner structure to do. It is not burdensome for a car to run—that is what it’s made to do. It is not burdensome for a canary to sing. It loves to sing. As one Indian professor put it: “It’s not burdensome to be told to eat.” A commandment to lovers telling them to love would not be burdensome—it would be bliss.

And yet we find many who look on Christianity as a burden—an imposition. As Solomon Richter put it: “Christianity is a set of scruples imposed on the ordinary framework of humanity to keep it from functioning naturally and normally.” That fits in with a passage from Hosea wherein God complains:

Were I to write for [them] my laws,

[they] would but think them foreigners’ saws. (8:12 Moffatt.)

God’s laws were looked on as foreign saws, or sayings, something alien or foreign to his people. But God’s laws and our primary nature are not aliens, they are allies. When we fulfill them we fulfill ourselves. As for Richter’s statement that Christianity is a set of scruples imposed on human nature to keep it from functioning naturally and normally, it is the very opposite. The real Christian is the most natural person in the world. He has natural joys, natural gaiety, natural laughter, natural culture, natural grace—he is a man reduced to simple naturalness. When one is not living the Christian way all his pleasures have to be induced—induced by entertainment from without, by liquor, by stimulation of various kinds. They have to try to have a good time. I don’t try to have a good time—I just have one, naturally and normally. A simple, bubbling gaiety from within, what Rufus Moseley called “the Divine frisky.” As you get cleaned up and cleaned out within, you develop a hair-trigger laugh—one with which you can laugh at yourself if you cannot laugh at anything else.

Taken from “Christian Maturity” by E. Stanley Jones

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