I first read C.S. Lewis just after I arrived in the United States as a nine-year-old girl. Born in Iraq, I was still learning English when I first read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and it captured my attention and my imagination.
Life moved on, I settled into this country, I became an adult, and I later read other non-fiction and philosophical books by Lewis. But what breaks me — even to this day — are a few pages in his fiction book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
I need to get something off my chest.
When I first came to this church, you told me how excited you were that I would be showing your kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for me and that you had my back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry.
I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.
For the last couple of years our small groups went through various books. We’ve been through Crazy Love, Radical, Jesus + Nothing = Everything, and a few other books. I believe that people have benefited from these books. It also as helped to create a reading culture in our church.
But we’ve stopped…
Sometimes people argue that we should not help those in need when the need is a result of “their own fault.”
This is a deadly view. For example, imagine if Christ had said that about us? “I will not go help them and deliver them from their sins — they brought their misery upon themselves by their own obedience. I will give to the good angels instead.” To refuse to help someone on the grounds that they “did this to themselves” is a denial of the gospel itself.
This view, however, is not just deadly; often, it has just plain misunderstood the situation.
Soli Deo gloria is the motto that grew out of the Protestant Reformation and was used on every composition by Johann Sebastian Bach. He affixed the initials SDG at the bottom of each manuscript to communicate the idea that it is God and God alone who is to receive the glory for the wonders of His work of creation and of redemption. At the heart of the sixteenth-century controversy over salvation was the issue of grace.