The Lord – The Great Disturber

A Troubled Soul - Ferdinand Hodler

A Troubled Soul – Ferdinand Hodler

God as comforter.*  The Lord as the giver of inner peace.  Gentle Jesus, who never ruffles feathers.  These sorts of things come naturally to us. It may be counter-intuitive to think of God as one who disturbs. But to really begin to consider God revealed in Christ is to become not more serene but more unsettled.

Consider how most responded to Jesus in the Gospels.  Words so frequently used are amazed, astonishedmarvelled.  He causes hearts to burn.  These are not reactions to a milquetoast guru.  They are the reactions of the disturbed and unsettled; those whose calm pond of life has just had a big rock dropped in.

This is because God revealed in Christ is not something to be coolly considered. We don’t analyze him with detachment. When we’re coming close to who he really is, his claims start to bear down on us. It is not as much that we can know God but that this knowledge knows us.

…God is not a fit object for man’s detached scrutiny. You cannot fix God at the end of a telescope or microscope and say ‘How interesting!’  God is not interesting. He is deeply upsetting. The same is true of Jesus Christ.  (John Stott, Basic Christianity)

We has thought intellectually to examine him; we find he is spiritually examining us…  We study Aristotle and are intellectually edified thereby; we study Jesus and are, in the profoundest way, spiritually disturbed.  (Patrick Carnegie Simpson, The Fact of Christ) 

Is it so strange to think of God as the Great Disturber?  Consider the reactions of the four children in C S Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when they first hear of Aslan. They are all deeply unsettled. Lucy, Susan, and Peter are unsettled and intrigued. Edmund (who has something to hide) is unsettled and sickened. Reading this book to my own children last night – this very passage – I saw like reactions upon their faces. Hearing of Aslan alongside the characters in the story produced in them the same intrigued unsettledness. They weren’t merely interested, they were disturbed.

 

 

*there is real comfort from God, to be sure, but it comes on the other side of being unsettled.

For Times Such As These – a discipleship reflection from Gandalf

Gandalf and Frodo

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,”  said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.  But that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

The cost of following Christ in the world is always high, although it may be different in different times in history.  And if we’re ever finding ourselves longing for an easier age – like perhaps when a more “christian” morality ruled the day or when more people went to Church, we must remember two things.  One, it may not have been all that great back then.  There are no Golden Ages in the history of faith in the world.  And two, that we have been appointed in the times we’ve been born into.  And God knows what time it is.  He is the author of history and has appointed his children to live in the world the way we find it today.  The task for us is to never wish for an easier journey but to be faithful in the face of things today.

And Gandalf, smart as he is, wasn’t the first to know this:

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14

For he will complete what he appoints for me,
    and many such things are in his mind.  Job 23:14