Jul 5, 2010 1958
‘Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold’ —(Matt. 24:12).
It is characteristic of Australians that they have an irrational fear of emotion in religion. This, even though they habitually let themselves go at basketball games. Our greatest fear of emotional display comes to the surface where issues of meaning and belief present themselves. For example, I have yet to see a large crowd of Australians offer a heartfelt rendering of the National Anthem. I have also noticed that men, in particular, are awfully uncomfortable at funerals. They are afraid to be seen with tears.
How is it that, in matters of deep consequence, we will not permit ourselves much enthusiasm? It is the charismatic sector of the Church that has pointed out this anomaly. They have demonstrated that it is entirely appropriate to ‘show’ deep feelings in things of faith.
Do we wish to separate gusto from religion, because being passionate declares to onlookers that we have staked our all on the things we care about so deeply? Are we afraid that our zeal may yet embarrass us; that our cause may fail; that faith may not translate into sight? Do we not want it known just how deeply our convictions go?
To display enthusiasm is to advertise one’s affections, values and hopes. This takes courage! Detachment is less risky. Attachment brings vulnerability. A life without intensity may be relatively safe— safe in the sense that you can’t die unless you are first alive. There can never be new life without urgency and desire. No babies are born without passion. Poetry is not produced without rapture or ardour. Great music does not come without arousal. Feelings are what lift us from bland, innocuous existence into a life of warmth and colour. The best insights in life are the result of involvement. If I would truly know someone, I need to be involved in that person’s life. The woman who loves her man knows aspects of his personality that are hidden from others who do not care as she does.
It was Peter’s spirited affection for Jesus that enabled him to ‘see’ at last who Jesus really was. Christ never invited the disciples to a scholarly investigation of his person. He asked them to follow him. It was in the intimacy of his fellowship that they discerned him. A Christian is a very ‘uncool’ individual who has fallen head-over-heels in love with Christ, and doesn’t care who knows it. This is not cold detachment—this is a relationship; robust, heated, extravagant!
The love of God is the greatest thing in the world. Yet we can let it grow cold in us. For this reason we need to meet regularly, to keep love warm. How inspiring it is to see a man and a woman, married for many years, who still cannot stop thinking about each other; who, instead of being jaded by years of living together, have maintained the glow. Their faces light up each time they see each other. So it should be with Christians and their Lord.
* This is an extract from Ron Allen’s book, From Me to You, Volume One