Thursday, June 15, 2023

Friendship Across Time

I've sometimes cited H. Clay Trumbull's Friendship: The Master-Passion (Birmingham, Alabama: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2005) and Carolinne White's Christian Friendship In The Fourth Century (New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002) as resources on friendship and how Christianity shaped people's views on the subject. See here for a post I wrote 16 years ago that quotes some portions of White's book.

I want to expand here on what both books suggest about how Christians (and others) of past centuries viewed friendship differently than it's often portrayed today. Contrary to what you often hear about friendship in certain circles in the modern world, including among Evangelicals, both books mentioned above provide examples of friendships maintained for many years between men and women who weren't romantically involved with each other, friendships maintained largely or entirely without the two individuals interacting face-to-face, a living Christian considering a deceased Christian he never met a friend, etc. Keep in mind that much of what you hear about friendship in modern contexts is shaped by the personal circumstances and preferences of the people discussing the subject, the nature of the culture in which they live, and other factors that can and sometimes do distort their judgment. It's helpful to get a broader view of friendship by reading about how it's been viewed by other cultures and across a larger span of time.

Just as we shouldn't start with an assumption that modern views are correct, we also shouldn't start with an assumption that earlier views are correct. But we should give those earlier views more consideration than people typically do.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Consciousness Of God Is The Starting Point

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Consciousness of God is the starting point, the system-aligning principle, the architectonic prerequisite for making good sense of life. When friends, family, coworkers, the mass media, self-help books, or psychotherapeutic professionals ignore reality [by neglecting God], they inevitably miscounsel. In Jeremiah's metaphor, they heal wounds lightly, 'saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace' (Jer. 8:11)." (David Powlison, in Sam Storms and Justin Taylor, edd., For The Fame Of God's Name [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2010], 432)

Sunday, June 11, 2023

The Greatness Of The Reward In Heaven

Now, back to the greatness of our reward in heaven (Matthew 5:12). What is it? Staying here in the context of the Beatitudes, we see a sixfold answer. The future blessedness of the disciples of Jesus is described in six ways that are sandwiched between the summary blessing of verse 3 — “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” — and the summary blessing of verse 10 — “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”…

What does it mean to live forever under the heavenly rule of God? Six immeasurable, glorious aspects of our great reward:

1. We will see God. Verse 8: “They shall see God.”
2. We will be shown mercy. Verse 7: “They shall receive mercy.”
3. We will be part of God’s family. Verse 9: “They shall be called sons of God.”
4. We will experience God’s comfort. Verse 4: “They shall be comforted.”
5. We will be co-owners of the whole world. Verse 5: “They shall inherit the earth.”
6. We will be satisfied with personal and universal righteousness. Verse 6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

The presence of God, seen and enjoyed forever in the face of Christ, covering us with mercy because of all our sins, calling us his children, comforting us for all pain and loss in this world, bequeathing to us the universe for a familiar homeland, with everything set right in our souls, and in nature, and in the social order of the new world: this is our great reward.

(John Piper)