Tuesday, September 26 2006
"Your natural life is derived from your parents; that does not mean it will stay there if you do nothing about it. You can lose it by neglect, or you can drive it away by committing suicide. You have to feed it and look after it: but always remember you are not making it, you are only keeping up a life you got from someone else. In the same way a Christian can lose the Christ-life which has been put into him, and he has to make efforts to keep it. But even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam--he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts." Mere Christianity
Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8). No one can snatch us out of Jesus' hand (John 17). He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion in the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1). All of these statements are absolutely true, but these statements do not mean that we can just sit back and do nothing in the Christian life. As Lewis says, if we do not nourish the Christ-life we have been given we may lose it. No external force or person or event can separate us from Christ and his love, or prevent us from becoming the complete, whole, happy creatures God wants us to be. But we can separate ourselves from Christ if we choose to do so. And we often do, whenever we choose self over God.
So how do we nourish the Christ-life in us? We do it in all those seemingly ordinary ways which Christian teachers have explained to us throughout the last two thousand years. We need to read, study, memorize, meditate and feed upon God's Word in the Bible. This is how we hear what God has to say to us. And we must also speak to God in prayer. Like our human relationships, a relationship with God is sustained by regular, honest, meaningful communication.
We also need to feed on Christ through regular and prayerful participation in the Lord's Supper. We need to worship our Triune God faithfully in the context of the Body of Christ, the Church. We need the fellowship of other Christians who can nourish us with encouragement, love and acceptance in Christ's name.
God has given us multiple lifelines to nourish the Christ-life placed in us by the Holy Spirit. But often we fail to use these lifelines because, in the middle of our weary race we wonder whether we are really making any progress at all. Is all the effort really worth it? We begin to identify with the person who questioned whether sermons were really valuable because he couldn't remember the outline of a single one he had heard in his whole life. But then someone else reminded him that he couldn't remember the menu of a single meal his wife had prepared for him in their thirty-six years of marriage; yet he had the distinct impression that without those thousands of meals he would have starved long ago.
Each individual meal in the Christian life may not seem like much--each time we feed on the Bible or the Lord's Supper, each time we are nourished through prayer, fellowship or worship. Each individual act can seem so insignificant. Skip one and what happens? Not much. But skip enough spiritual meals in a row and we will indeed starve to death. Why do that when Christ offers a banquet for us to feast upon?