ForthWrite For Christ

Writing to free the prisoner of one idea, crossing the bridge of paradox to truth, serving the legacies of Chesterton and Lewis who defended their faith in Christ

The Flag of the World: “In” The World But Not “Of” It

I had found this hole in the world: the fact that one must somehow find a way of loving the world without trusting it; somehow one must love the world without being worldly. – G. K. Chesterton, The Flag of the World, Orthodoxy

How do you and I do that?  How do we be “in” the world but not “of” it?  Jesus tells us that we will be “hated” just as He was.  (John 15:17-19) Are we ready to be “in” the world but not “of” it to the degree that we are willing to be thought of in the same way as some do Him?  With hatred?   “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that we might have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)  That is the paradox: the precise application of love, the willing endurance of hate for that love.    Are we willing?  If we are, how do we go about it?

Chesterton was trying to work out the same problem as you and I, to find and understand this foundational of all paradoxes in which we presently live:

And then there followed an experience impossible to describe.  It was as if I had been blundering about since my birth with two huge unmanageable machines, of different shapes and without apparent connection – the world and the Christian tradition. (John 17:15-19)

I had found this hole in the world: the fact that one must somehow find a way of loving the world without trusting it; somehow one must love the world without being worldly.  I found this projecting feature of Christian theology like a sort of hard spike, the dogmatic insistence that God was personal and had made the world separate from Himself.  The spike of dogma fitted exactly into the hole in the world – it had evidently been meant to go there – and then a strange thing began to happen. When once these two parts of the two machines had come together, one after another, all the other parts fitted and fell in with an eerie exactitude.  I could hear bolt after bolt over all the machinery falling into its place with a kind of click of relief.  Having got one part right, all the other parts were repeating that rectitude, as clock after clock strikes noon.  Instinct after instinct was answered by doctrine after doctrine. Or to vary the metaphor, I was like one who had advanced into a hostile country to take one high fortress.  And when that fort had fallen, the whole country surrendered and turned solid behind me.  The whole land lit up, as it were, back to the first fields of my childhood.

Resolving this problem of being “in” the world but not “of” it is a battle.  It is a battle of the heart and spirit against our own flesh and the experiences we have had and may continue to have.  It is against an enemy who will use those experiences to distract us from a victory each one of us could have.  It is those experiences that distract us and keep us from the real war going on between the  country of our heart against the world’s way of living. Yet the world is still there to love like a family, albeit one with many problems.

Chesterton draws us back to the family metaphor when leaving us some advice on how best to be “in” this world but not “of” it:

The world is not a lodging house in Brighton, which we are to leave because it is miserable.  It is the fortress of our family with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is the less we should leave it. The point is not that this world is too sad to love or too glad not to love; the point is that, when you do love a thing, its gladness is a reason for loving it and its sadness a reason for loving it more.

Jesus showed us the way to love the world AND to conquer it: by following Him and keeping busy by preaching the Good News wherever God has placed us, doing good to the poor, loving and caring for our families and those in need.

That’s the way to plant the flag of the world.

Till next time.

God bless you.  M. S. Reed, 2009, Dilseacht, le gra go deo | Share on FriendFeed


One comment on “The Flag of the World: “In” The World But Not “Of” It

  1. Author
    August 13, 2010

    A further note: Lewis brought out something important about love as defined by God in order to make a distinction between what has come to be meant by modern day “love”. Lewis explains that God’s love “…is more stern and splendid than mere kindness.” In other words, this kind of love is exactly what 1 Corinthians 13 is saying about love: “…..Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This is a love that knows when to draw the line: it does not help evil do what is wrong. It does not stand idly by and let evil have its way. It is not indulgent, thinking wrong must be overlooked and tolerated. But it is willing to sacrifice on behalf of others. It is willing to endure for a time and a purpose but not because it is afraid of bullies. It endures in the hope that a captive soul will be set free from sin. It is definite. It is immense. But it is never perverse. Real love rings true and has no features of the dissonant sound of indulgent modern day “love”. In his observation of the character of Aslan in “The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe”, Lewis is underscoring the complete nature of God and love when he says: “After all he is not a tame lion, but he is good.” God is good and God is love. (Mark 10:17-18; 1 John 4:8) Do you now have a better idea of what love is when God talks about it?

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This entry was posted on October 16, 2009 by in Apologetics and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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