It can be a strange thing, being a Christian among Christians. Christianity seems to mean something different to everyone I meet these days. And if it means something similar, there’s no guarantee that similar meaning will also have similar expression. This is one reason, I think, why I read books about the faith: to find some handle or common language that can be used in the community I find myself in (which is interesting because the New Testament is full of quality wording, but I digress).
So I was really surprised at how moved I was by the penultimate image in Donald Miller’s Scary Close when it comes to talking about the faith. I know he’s using the image in connection with his wife. But anyone who’s read something from C. S. Lewis knows that it’s bigger than that, that’s it’s really something deep and supernaturally human about longing. From Miller:
What differentiates true Christianity from the pulp many people buy into is that Jesus never offers that completion [a “you complete me” type scenario] here on earth. He only asks us to trust him and follow him to the metaphorical wedding we will experience in heaven . . . The more I thought about it, the more the Bible made sense. Early followers of Jesus experienced pain and trial and frustration, hardly the romantic life. But they consoled each other and took care of each other and comforted each other in the longing.
It’s the longing created by and met by Jesus that we hold between us. And it is that common experience, that common hope, that common longing, that we hold together . . . and that ultimately holds us together. Church talk and missions talk and vocation talk and education talk, as important as they may be, can only hold things together for so long. They are weak sauce compared to the love and longing for Jesus. Miller understands that as central to his own experience and has chosen his wife to share it with.
Which is great . . . but I don’t think it’s a spouses-only phenomena. Because in theory, at least, it is a key part of all Christian experience.
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I’m thinking that I didn’t do Miller’s latest book much justice in these post for the last two weeks. I think, though, that it’s given me fodder and encouragement enough move on with a bit of confidence in the ways that God is leading me these days. I’m sure I’ll revisit many of Miller’s thoughts (both mentioned here and not) later on. It’s the kind of book that sits with you for a while. If you happen to read the book, let me know what you think. It would be nice to hold that together for a while.