Wednesday, July 18, 2007

They Would Do Anything For Love

With a nod of the head to Meatloaf. . . .

I have begun reading John R. W. Stott's book "The Cross of Christ." You will certainly hear more on this later. I recently came across a passage that I enjoyed greatly and wanted to share. Note the simultaneous gravity and delight with which Stott writes of these men who love the cross:



"The verdict of scholars has understandably percolated through into popular Christian devotion. Allowances should be made for Christians who at Christ's cross have found their pride broken, their guilt expunged, their love kindled, their hope restored and their character transformed, if they go on to indulge in a little harmless hyperbole. . . .

Justin Martyr, the second-century Christian apologist, confessed that wherever he looked, he saw the cross. Neither the sea is crossed nor the earth is ploughed without it, he writes, referring to a ship's mast and yard, and to a plough's blade and yoke. Diggers and mechanics do not work without cross-shaped tools, alluding presumably to a spade and its handle. Moreover, 'the human form differs from that of irrational animals in nothing else than in its being erect and having the arms extended.' And if the torso and arms of the human form proclaim the cross, so do the nose and eyebrows of the human face. Fanciful? Yes, entirely, and yet I find myself willing to forgive any such fancies which glorify the cross.

My modern example is the most eloquent description I know of the universality of the cross. . . . Brought up in a Socialist home, and familiar with Socialist Sunday schools and their 'sort of agnosticism sweetened by hymns,' [Malcolm Muggeridge] became uneasy about 'this whole concept of a Jesus of good causes.' Then:

'I would catch a glimpse of a cross - not necessarily a crucifix; maybe two pieces of wood accidentally nailed together, on a telegraph pole, for instance - and suddenly my heart would stand still. In an instinctive, intuitive way I understood that something more important, more tumultuous, more passionate, was at issue than our good causes, however admirable they might be. . . .

It was, I know, an obsessive interest. . . . I might fasten bits of wood together myself, or doodle it. This symbol, which was considered to be derisory in my home, was yet also the focus of inconceivable hopes and desires. . . .

As I remember this, a sense of my own failure lies leadenly upon me. I should have worn it over my heart; carried it, a precious standard, never to be wrested out of my hands; even though I fell, still borne aloft. It should have been my cult, my uniform, my language, my life. I shall have no excuse; I can't say I didn't know. I knew from the beginning, and turned away.'

Later, however, he turned back, as each of us must who has ever glimpsed the reality of Christ crucified. For the only authentic Jesus is the Jesus who died on the cross."



What is it they say, that love makes us do silly and foolish things? And yet I find myself willing to forgive any such silliness. . . .

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