So this past semester me and two other girls, who I have grown to love and adore, started a small group Bible study. We’re using the book, The Prodigal God by Tim Keller, and we’ve loved every minute of it. It’s about the story of the prodigal son, and it’s one of the most humbling things I’ve ever read. If you’re thinking it won’t apply to you because you are not/ never were the prodigal son, fear not, my guess is you can relate to the elder brother. I’d say at least half the times we’ve gotten together someone’s ended up in tears because it just so powerfully conveys God’s message. The last chapter is my favorite (we haven’t studied it together yet), but I studied it this past week in the midst of all my travels, and it’s so good I want to share a little. In this chapter he discusses some attributes of salvation, and my favorite is that “salvation is communal.” I think often times the communal side of life gets neglected. The aged forget they’re not alone, the youth forget they can’t do it by themselves, and all of us forget to value others as we should. I guess this is kind of a quote within a quote, but God really used it to speak to me, so this is an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ book The Four Loves that Tim Keller used to illustrate his point in The Prodigal God.
In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully
bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity;
I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles
[Williams] is dead, I shall never again see [Tolkein’s] reaction to a
specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald [Tolkein], having him
“to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald…In this,
friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to heaven itself
where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the
fruition which each of us has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her her own
way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an
old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying, “Holy, Holy,
Holy” to one another (Isaiah 6:3). The more we this share the
Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall have.
Pause here and meditate on that for a second. Isn’t it funny how that works? And it’s true, if you’ve read more than this post you saw that being kinder and gentler are the two fruits I’m trying to cultivate right now; that means I don’t see a lot of them in my life currently but would like to, and because my best friend Emily is the kindest and meekest person I know, I get to see God more and in a way that maybe I don’t see on my own. I have friends who have been gossiped and lied about, but will pray for and encourage the very person they know is treating them wrong. By being friends with other Christians I get to see God in new ways. I get to see how he works for each person individually. Maybe this sounds simple and silly, but it’s so awesome to me. We are here for each other; we should be here for each other. God gave us passions and talents that are ours, and He gave them so that we might show His mercy, His goodness, and that He is love. Do I do that? Do I look to others to see His sovereignty, do I try to get closer to Him through edification, or do I selfishly stick with what I can see on my own? What about you? Think about it. And since this is about one page out of the book, go ahead and read it all; if the only thing you do is read the last chapter on google books, read it. You’ll be encouraged.