In Edward England’s “The Unfading Vision,” he quotes a third century Saint named Cyprian who writes to a friend named Donatus.
“This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden under the shadow of these vines. But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see. Brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds, under all roofs misery and selfishness. It is really a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world!
Yet, in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians…and I am one of them.”
I sat with my daughter Karissa yesterday at lunch and we discussed everything from technology to the unfairness of children getting sick and dying in this world. We ate pizza and bread sticks (absolutely some of the best I’ve had…thank you Joe Bologna’s) and talked about life, death and everything in between…but the primary attitude that came from my youngest daughter, who is now 21, was a gratefulness that God was in control. Karissa is a single mom, her son, my grandson Peyton is the light and joy of her life…and at 21 Karissa looks back on her life as a teenager, where she chose to be a part of the world and it’s agendas and attitudes with a headshake of regret and wonders “How could I have thought like that?”…now she looks at the world through a different perspective…a perspective of grace and redemption. Much like her Father…..Christians…We are one of them (or two of them, I guess)
I pray for my children and grandchildren daily…like me, and like you they live in a world that is controlled by sin and selfishness. There certainly seems to be a philosophy that people can come up with their own plans for rescue and deliverance. If we just have enough programs and agencies everything will be OK. While I really love programs and agencies that help others who are truly in need, and I support them with my time and finances…I believe it will be individual Christians living and loving among lost people in the world that will make an eternal difference. It’s those individuals that made the difference in my life and my daughter’s life. When we begin to understand that God’s people don’t “come to Church, but God’s people are the Church.” And Jesus told hurting people, “Come to me all you that are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…” He told His committed followers, “Go into the world and make disciples….”
My finale statement for today….”It’s an incredibly bad world,” because the god of this world is the king of selfishness and sin…and even innocent people, like children suffer because of sin. It’s dark…and those who live in it….“walk in darkness,” If you believe that shining behind church walls will impact the world with light, piercing the darkness…you are tragically mistaken. So, may we seek to be like Cyprian…and come out from behind our safe vine covered gardens…so we can reflect Jesus, “The Light of the World,” into the darkness….those Christians…mirrors who reflect the One true light and…
I am one of them,