What exactly IS The Christian Ideal?
If you Google the phrase you'll get directed to the Chesterton* quote and untold numbers of sermons about "it." One Biblical reference that showed up was 1 Peter 2:18-25. If that is the only part of the Bible I ever got to read, I don't think it would draw me in to a Christian life! Granted it was for its time but I’m glad I wasn’t living then and there. Although, we must remember that millions are living in similar conditions today. How confident are you of defining The Christian Ideal to others? Something as in, "Well, of course it is...." How would you define it as a way of life? Why does Chesterton say it's difficult? What happens if (when?) you stray from the Ideal?
Jesus, Beloved of God,
You are the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of God, the Son of Man. We are the Christians who have signed on to follow You, to live our lives as You have taught us. You did give us all we need to know in Matthew 22:33-40** which is pretty clear: Love God with everything we have and love everyone ~ friend, not friend, and stranger ~ as if they are ourselves. Sounds easy ~ I guess if we can really do that, we've pretty well covered the original 1-10 list. Well, I quietly admit there are days when I'm not loving anyone very much especially myself and many other days when I watch to see how I measure up with the ways other Christians appear to be following You. That can be discouraging on a variety of levels. For today, I'll give up looking around to see what everyone else is doing and take on the "trying" part a little more diligently. I'll pray to find my path through The Christian Ideal and when I hit a bump or two or have a cranky day, I'll leave a message for myself to work on remembering to pray again and more often.
*G.K. Chesterton [1874-1936] born in London and baptized as an Anglican, studied art and literature harboring a desire to be an artist. He fell into journalism and then began to write in earnest penning more than 80 books, hundreds of short stories, and more hundreds of poems. He's widely known for his Priest-Detective Father Brown character, which, dramatized for television, still plays on PBS in the US. A lay theologian and philosopher, he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922. Poet, playwright, political commentator, literary and art critic, he was known for his wit and humor and use of paradox. His faith was deep and his practice devout enough to warrant a telegram of condolence from the Pope "To the English People" at his death. Just one more of his innumerable quotable quotes that feels quite contemporary: The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.
**Matthew 22:34-40 [NRSV]
34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
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