Christ Altogether Lovely V

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from Christ Altogether Lovely
Rev. John Flavel

Fourthly, "Altogether lovely," i.e. Nothing is lovely in opposition to him, or in separation from him. If he truly is altogether lovely, then whatsoever is opposite to him, or separate from him can have no loveliness in it. Take away Christ, and where is the loveliness of any enjoyment? The best creature-comfort apart from Christ is but a broken cistern. It cannot hold one drop of true comfort, Psalm 73:26. It is with the creature--the sweetest and loveliest creature--as with a beautiful image in the mirror: turn away the face and where is the image? Riches, honours, and comfortable relations are sweet when the face of Christ smiles upon us through them; but without him, what empty trifles are they all?

Which brings up the natural corollary--whatever is unlovely in action, word, person, or object is not of Christ. Whence then if not of Christ? Well then it seems two possible causes--the original Fall corrupted not only human nature, but dragged down with it all of nature, and the work of Satan. Satan cannot create, but he can work on what is created to distort. Whatever is unlovely has its source at one of these two fonts. And we are assured by Paul that nature groans for release from the bonds that hold it down. While there are mechanical aspects of a mosquito that are beautiful and remarkable, the propensity for spreading disease and its unpleasant source of food both are unlovely. And Christ has no part in these--we look to the other sources. Now, interestingly, even though He has no part in their production, they do serve His ends as do all created things.

But we should keep in mind, nothing is lovely in opposition to or separation from Jesus Christ. No matter how noble the cause, no matter how deserving the pursuit, if it is not done for the Glory of God at the behest of Jesus Himself, there can be no loveliness in it. Let me give you a prime example. Some people who support the right to abortion do so from a sense of the desperation of the people involved in these situations. They see the poverty and the struggles and the difficulties of the people who are suffering and conclude (erroneously) that their burden would be lightened if only they could relieve themselves of some part of the difficulty. While the motive--alleviation of suffering--might be noble, the effect is evil. It does not come from God nor does it properly fulfill God's commandment to love your neighbor--the quick fix is chosen over the proper thing to do. So too with all our ends. If the proper means is not God's will and God's grace, then the end is likely to be very ugly.

This can lead to long and complicated discussion about God's will in our lives, but I think simple discernment through prayer can help in all of these cases. There are causes that are always good--praying for the good of another, feeding, clothing, and providing shelter for the homeless--these things are things we are obligated to do in some way or another.

The important key is that whatever is beautiful in the world is beautiful inasmuch as it partakes of Christ's beauty. He makes all things lovely. The loveliness of every human being comes from Jesus Christ.

And I sometimes wonder if anyone at all is reading any of these reflections, or if because they come from another tradition, they are not at all interesting. And it occurs to me that it little matters, because this is what I feel God has given me to do here and not to do it would be a far greater folly than to continue in the face of silence.

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o yes, someone is reading.

Intriguing discussion of nature being afflicted by the Fall, and the example of the mosquito.

It sounds as though you've already discerned value apart from any responses you may receive. You write because you feel you must, and would likely continue even if your scrivenings were merely an on-line diary.

Still, I understand your laments, as feedback is always more pleasurable than dead silence, even if the feedback is negative. It's certainly comforting to know that someone else is out there and listening.

But on this earth we are frequently called to exchange comforts for "the glory and isolation of the anarchist", as Chesterton put it, to labor and persevere for what we believe to be right, even if the entire universe appears arrayed against us. And even when we succeed in doing right, we will often have no reward for it. (I suppose if there were, there would be no credit in being a saint.)

Anyway, be encouraged and know that your efforts are not unappreciated. I will not say they are appreciated as they should be -- The Weight of Glory showed me my faults in that area -- but I am grateful nonetheless for what you have done, and I hope that you will continue.

I have found the poetry and the more recent extracts on the loveliness of Jesus very helpful. I don't find the need to add further comments.
But rest assured, your blog is much appreciated.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 6, 2003 8:06 AM.

November Poem--Scandals of a Small Town was the previous entry in this blog.

Some Meaningful Words from Shakespeare is the next entry in this blog.

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