Well, I haven’t updated this puppy in quite a while. Getting back into writing, though, and it will be related to discipleship and our missions work in NYC.
So be sure to check it out at nycdisciples.wordpress.com.
I recently read an excellent little book by Tim Chester called “A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, & Mission around the Table“. It’s a study of several portions of Luke’s Gospel that deal with Jesus at various meals. I was greatly challenged by much of what was said, especially in the practical applications of hospitality in cultures where even families don’t eat meals together anymore. There’s also some challenging chapters on the ways we can use food and even hospitality to feed our idolatry rather than worship God and bless others. I immediately passed it onto my wife for her reading shelf since it’s hard to start applying new ways of hospitality without your wife being on board!
Here are some quotes to entice you more:
“Meals can be a visual representation of our hearts. If our hearts are concerned for position, honor, status, or approval, then that will be reflected in our dining etiquette. Consider how your meals express your vision for life. Think about who’s invited, how they’re served, what you hope to achieve, and the layout of your home. Do they express the vision of the kingdom of God?”
“Many people love the idea of the church as a community. But when we eat together, we encounter not some theoretical community, but real people with all their problems and quirks. The meal table is an opportunity to give up our proud ideals by which we judge others and accept in their place the real community created by the cross of Christ, with all its brokenness.”
“If guests offer to help, then take them up on their offer. Your aim is to love, not impress. Jesus himself was the recipient of hospitality more than he provided it. Letting others serve us creates a relationship of equality and intimacy.”
There are a lot more little tidbits here worth reading. I found some of the thoughts on meals very similar to Eugene Peterson’s writing in “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places” from which I hope to put some quotes up in the near future.
from The Four Loves, referring to the problems he saw with classifying all human problems as psychological or pathological and how “normal” should not necessarily be our goal:
“We have only seen one such Man. And He was not at all like the psychologist’s picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed, popular citizen. You can’t really be very well “adjusted” to your world if it says you “have a devil” and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood.”
In another essay entitled “Rejoinder to Dr. Pittenger” from the God in the Dock collection, Lewis gives a dead-on evaluation of the Sermon on the Mount in response to criticism that Lewis liked Paul’s theology of sin too much and didn’t “care for” Jesus’ more optimistic ethics, such as found in the Sermon on the Mount. (For anyone who has read Lewis and knows how LITTLE time and energy he spends discussing Pauline theology, this accusation itself is ridiculous. This compares to someone accusing Martin Luther of spending too much time in practical books like James and not enough reading Paul.)
“The statement that I do not ‘care much for’ the Sermon on the Mount but ‘prefer’ the ‘Pauline ethic’ of man’s sinfulness and helplessness carries a suggestion of alternatives between which we may choose, where I see successive stages through which we must proceed. Most of my books are evangelistic, addressed to tous exo [Greek for “those without/outside”]. It would have been inept to preach forgiveness and a Savior to those who did not know they were in need of either. Hence St. Paul’s and [John] the Baptist’s diagnosis (would you call it exactly an ethic?) had to be pressed. Nor am I aware that our Lord revised it (‘if ye, being evil…’)
As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the mount, if ‘caring for’ here means ‘liking’ or enjoying, I suppose no one ‘cares for’ it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledge-hammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure. This is indeed to be ‘at ease in Zion.’ Such a man is not yet ripe for the Bible…”
Every teacher (perhaps every parent?) should read CS Lewis’ “The Abolition of Man“- a critique of modern (and its step-child postmodern) education to its core.
A few quotes:
On the push for criticism of literature over understanding (and perhaps subsequent enjoyment) of literature–
“For every one pupil who needs to be guarded from a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.”
“A hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.”
On the biases of such skepticism (or UK spelling- scepticism) and subjective thinking,
“Their scepticism about values is on the surface: it is for use on other people’s values; about the values current in their own set they are not nearly sceptical enough.”
“An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy. If a man’s mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut.”