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“Saintly madness” for the New Year

As we move into a new year, resolve to go deep with God, to press in and know God, not just to know of or hear about God or even to talk about others’ experience of God. Rather engage Him yourself by hearing Him in His word, talking to Him in prayer and meeting Him in direct, concrete obedience. Be delivered from second hand religion which Kierkegaard described as

just about as genuine as tea made from a bit of paper which once lay in a drawer beside another bit of paper which had once been used to wrap up a few dried tea leaves from which tea had already been made three times.

In a culture- sadly even a church culture- which is so thin and bland, this sort of religion is passable, and it is terribly easy to live and gain some standing simply by parroting others. But this is not life, and such faith will not stand as the winds of culture whip into a fury against the faith. Instead it leads to the sort of lives critiqued again by Kierkegaard,

The sort of men who now live cannot stand anything so strong as the Christianity of the New Testament (they would die of it or lose their minds), just in the same sense that children cannot stand drink, for which reason we prepare for them a little lemonade—and official Christianity is lemonade-twaddle for the sort of beings that are now called men, it is the strongest thing they stand, and this twaddle then is their language they call “Christianity,” just as children call their lemonade “wine.”

In contrast, on New Year’s  my mind often returns to these words of Jim Elliot, martyred missionary, to his brother:

For you, brother, I pray that the Lord might crown this year with His goodness and in the coming one give you a hallowed dare-devil spirit in lifting the biting sword of Truth, consuming you with a passion that is called by the cultured citizen of Christendom ‘fanaticism’, but is known to God as the saintly madness that led His Son through bloody sweat and hot tears to agony on a rude cross- and Glory!

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