FOR LOVE

The following is an excerpt taken from “Christian Maturity” by E. Stanley Jones

“No other motive would or could make him do what he did except one–love. Neither self-interest, nor wisdom, nor knowledge, nor pity, nor anything else could make him become Incarnate–except love. “I wouldn’t do that for a million,” said a wealthy visitor as he watched a missionary nurse wash the sores of a leper. “Neither would I,” replied the nurse. But she would do it for love.”

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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

THE CROSS LIGHTS UP THE NATURE OF GOD

If God is love and it is the nature of love to take on itself the burdens and sorrows and sins of the loved ones, would His love not crimson into suffering as that love meets sin in us, the loved ones? Would there not be an unseen Cross upon the heart of God—He being what He is and we being what we are?

But God is a Spirit and I am bounded by my flesh. How could I know that there is an unseen cross upon the heart of God? How could I know it, except He show me—show me by an outer cross that there is an inner cross upon His heart? Has that happened? Yes. The outer cross lifted up on a hilltop called Calvary is the outer cross through which I see the inner cross upon the heart of God. The cross lights up the nature of God as love. Through it I see that at the very center of the universe is redeeming Love. No greater discovery could be made, or will be made, than that. That is the ultimate in discoveries.

And everything noble in human nature and human history points to the necessity of that fact of love in God. For if it isn’t there, then the universe ends in a vast disappointment—God does not fulfill the prophecies of the noblest in nature and man.

Take this: A wildlife conservation officer drove past a grouse in the center of the road, and he was surprised that she did not move when he swerved around her. He came back and saw in the meantime that six other cars had swerved around her, and still she did not move. When he came near, six little chicks ran out from under her wings. One of her wings was broken and her head was bloody. But she was saving others; herself she could not save. He that put the impulse into the heart of that mother grouse to save her little family at cost to herself, shall He not save His family though His head be bloody and His heart be broken?

Taken from CHRISTIAN MATURITY by E. Stanley Jones

FREEDOM FROM SIN-CONSCIOUSNESS

One of the greatest necessities for maturity is a freedom from sin-consciousness. As long as there is an undertone or overtone of sin-consciousness, there can never be real maturity of character and life. For sin—being an aberration, a departure from that for which we are inwardly made, a missing the mark—always results in a sense of frustration, of out-of-gearness. No person can be mature, with a gnawing sense of sin-consciousness within. It is life living itself against itself. The word “evil” is the word “live” spelled backward.

There are three great attempts to get rid of sin-consciousness. One is the way of the Gnostics. They denied that it existed—for the Gnostic. He lived “in the spirit” and was unaffected by his contacts with matter, which he looked on as evil. So he denied he had any sin. The second way is the way of the modern neo-orthodoxy, which brings sin in and makes it a natural part of life, including the Christian life, and the Christian life especially. This passage in the Epistle, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8), is the golden text of neo-orthodoxy. But John was writing here, not about the real Christian, but about the pseudo-Christian, the Gnostic, who denied that he had any sin to be cleansed from. He waved sin out with a gesture. To take that reference to the Gnostic and make it universal is to “wrest the Scriptures” and make John contradict himself. For John plainly says: “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1:7), and, “He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). “All sin” and “all unrighteousness” means exactly what it says, or it means that John is involved in a hopeless contradiction. But John is clear-cut and consistent: We have all sinned and all are corrupted by sin—personal and inherited; in Jesus, however, sin is not waved out but wiped out—we are cleansed from “all sin.”

Taken from “Christian Maturity” by E. Stanley Jones

JOY, A MARK OF MATURITY

Burt Rosenberg and Louie

Burt Rosenberg "The Joy Spritzer" and Louie

We take another step in the interpretation of maturity in this Epistle: “And we are writing this that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4).

Joy is a mark of maturity. The sad, morose type of person is immature. For that unhappiness is being caused, almost entirely, through inner conflicts and wrong attitudes toward life. When we get rid of inner conflicts and wrong attitudes toward life, we will almost automatically burst into joy. We are made for joy—made for it in the inner structure of our beings. And when we are truly ourselves by being truly His, then we are joyous, constitutionally. Rendell Harris says: “Joy is the strength of the people of God; it is their chief characteristic.” Where there is no joy there is no Christianity, and where there is Christianity there is joy. “So there was much joy in that city,” was said of the Samaritan city, because “Philip . . .

Burt trying my hair on for size

proclaimed to them the Christ.” Christ and joy go together. Where He is, there is joy; and where He is not, there is sadness. “And he went away sadly”—everybody goes away from Christ sadly. For when you go away from Christ you go away from Joy. He is Joy—-a Fountain of Joy. The Christian way is piety set to music. It is fun!

“Mary” says: “How little it takes to make us happy when we are Christians and how little it takes to make us unhappy when we are not.” This is profoundly true, for the Christian is basically happy, and any little thing will set off that basic happiness into bubbling. But when you are not a Christian you are basically unhappy, and any little thing will bring out that basic unhappiness.

However, when everything is going Christ’s way, then you have a glorious feeling, for His way and our way are the same—basically the same. But when “His way” and your way conflict, you do not have the glorious feeling—you have a gloomy feeling. Sin is sad. It cannot be otherwise, for it is “missing the mark.”

E. Stanley Jones