Great Thinkers in the History of the Church (no. 7)
“… what he [Jesus] freed from its connection with self-seeking and ritual elements, and recognized as the moral principle, he reduces to one root and to one motive—love. He knows of no other, and love itself, whether it takes the form of love of one’s neighbor or of one’s enemy, or the love of the Samaritan, is of one kind only. It must completely fill the soul; it is what remains when the soul dies to itself. In this sense love is the new life already begun. But it is always the love which serves, and only in this function does it exist and live.”
*Adolf Harnack, b. 1851, What is Christianity?, Trans. Thomas Bailey Saunders
Scripture: Romans 14.17-18 (NLT)
17For the Kingdom of God is … a matter of … living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too.
Stories and Comments
Once, there was a young monk living in the desert, and he was very serious about practicing the teaching of Christ. He came across something he did not understand, so, he went to his Abbot. When the Abbot heard the question, he kept laughing. The Abbot stood up and walked away, still laughing. The young monk was disturbed by the Abbot’s behavior. For the next three days, he could not eat, sleep, or think properly. At the end of three days, he went back to the Abbot and told him how disturbed he had felt. When the Abbot heard this, he said, "Monk, do you know what your problem is? Your problem is that you are worse than a clown!" This shocked the monk, and he asked, "Sir, how can you say such a thing?! How can I be worse than a clown?" The Abbot explained, "A clown enjoys seeing people laugh. You? You feel disturbed because another person laughed. Tell me, are you not worse than a clown?" When the monk heard this, he began laughing. He was set free spiritually.
Once, a monk asked his Abbot, “Father, you said that there is one thing all persons who are overly religious have in common. What is that?” “They all lack joy.”
Part of the Fruit of the Spirit is “joy.” When we surrender to the Spirit, in Christ, we give up control of all the circumstances of our lives. We give up control of how other persons think of and treat us. We give up control of holding on to the past and worrying about the future. We give up control of having to be right and other persons wrong. We give up control of trying to manipulate God through prayer and rite. We give up control of religion that decides who is “in” and who is “out.” We give up control of feeling Mystery must be reduced to human thought and words. We give up control of individual right at the expense of communal love. And, much more we give up control of, and we have to keep giving up that control daily, moment to moment. Therefore, we enter again and again into the death and resurrection of Christ, and experience true freedom. Regardless of what we face in life, we discover a joy that leads us to take life and religion less seriously but more reverently. We share more wholly in the joy of the Divine. God dances, and we dance in and with God, smiling and laughing. Life becomes an ecstatic dance. And, to the non-dancers, we become, thus, wonderfully odd.
What is joy?
Are you becoming a more joyful person as a result of your spiritual Journey? Explain.
Can taking religion less seriously mean taking it more reverently? Explain.
Were you nurtured in a joyful faith? Explain.
What is the relationship between the Holy Spirit and joy?
Can you experience sadness and joy at the same time? Explain.
Are there any persons in your life who are not joyful and seek to lead you to share in their lack of joy?
Meditate using the word joy as your prayer word, or mantra, for ten minutes daily for one week.
Keep spending at least twenty to thirty minutes daily in Silence, resting in the Lord of Love.
Make sure you have a sacred space in your home for time alone in prayer and spiritual reading.
Make sure you are in a covenant group. For more information on covenant groups, write the address below.
Consider, if you are not already, sponsoring a child through Compassion International. You can find out more about Compassion International by going to www.compassion.net to read about sponsoring, in the name of Jesus, children living in poverty. Thanks! Brian K. Wilcox
To contact Brian, write email@example.com .