Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rose coloured formaldehyde

Over 20 or more years hanging around the edges of church and the last 10 or so years playing an active role as part of it, I've heard many stories of the "old saints". People who's lives exemplified Christian living. People who we should strive to be like.

The interesting thing about many of these stories of men (I can't think of any women among them) who rose at 4am every morning to read the Bible in the original Greek, and who prayed on their knees for 2 hours each day and who never swore, or complained, or farted (ok, I added that), is the way they imply perfection.

I have often wondered if the reality about these guys lives, paraded like protestant versions of All Saints Day icons, is really as impressive as the legends would have us believe. I have also often wondered if these stories have really served to spur on those who hear them to better things, or, as in my case, they simply served to further instil a sense of alienation in people who where already struggling with their own inadequacies, weaknesses and failings.

Personally, I think the only perfect example we need is that of Christ. That's not to say we shouldn't look to the examples set by godly men and women through the ages, but we should do so in the recognition that they are not the icons of perfections some in the past have made them out to be. Perhaps we need to throw out the rose coloured formaldehyde so widely used in the preservation of the lives of the "old saints" over the last 100 years or so and get back to being real about the struggles, joys and difficulties of life lived as a disciple of Jesus Christ - the one, true icon of perfection.


Faithfulnathan said...

Hi, hows it going Andrew?

I too have questioned the perfection of saints in times past, and like you said, I'm pretty sure they have struggles like anyone else... :)

Regarding the disciples of Jesus though, are you implying that he is discipling people today? I thought Jesus handed the batten over to his 12, and they were to then, in a similar manner as Jesus, make disciples; and the discipline they would teach would be that which was exemplified and taught originally by Jesus. - does that make sense?

So I guess I'm saying that its a different thing to be disciplined by Jesus in the flesh than to be chastened by the spirit of God, who abode in Jesus. **Maybe I'm pulling hairs out of the trinity - sorry** I think this way makes practical sense, especially in regards to discipleship today, because its important to have real-life, in-the-flesh, currently living saints to exemplify how its done in this present society, and interact on the same level as his/her brethren. I'm not saying the spirit of God is not present to help, or that scripture is worthless, but these may be two possible reasons for people being alienated from genuine holiness and godliness, the way Jesus lived it. - what do you think?

And hey, I think stories of saints in the past 100 years could be good, in as much as people can relate to them. In July I heard a story of saint Thomas Moore, and I was inspired! Martyrs are legends! :)


The Creature said...

Hi Nathan,

Yep - I pretty much agree with all that. And yep, there are great stories of past "heroes of the faith" that really do inspire.

Sorry I haven't got to replying to your most recent email ... time, time, time! :)

Will be in touch soon.


Faithfulnathan said...

still waiting...