Tuesday, August 30, 2005


"I know what I would obtain; it is ease from my heavy burden."

"But why wilt thou seek for ease this way, seeing so many dangers attend it? Especially since (hadst thou but patience to hear me) I could direct thee to the obtaining of what thou desirest, without the dangers that thou in this way wilt run thyself into? Yea, and the rememdy is at hand. Besides, I will add that instead of those dangers, thou shalt meet with much safety, friendship, and content."

Doesn't that sound great? To be rid of our burden... And the answer is found in a promise. This traveller, Christian (of Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress") is carrying a burden he can hardly bear, when he is offered this promise by Mr. Worldy Wiseman. And he, too, is wooed by the promise. He listened to the man's directions and followed them into the town of Morality to see a man and his son called Legality and Civility. Fortunately, he was rescued by a messenger of the King and placed back on the right path before Legality and Civility were able to enslave him. Legality, you see, is a cheat, and his son, Civility is nothing but a hypocrite - they can't deliver what is promised.

As I read this portion of Bunyan's classic, I couldn't help but hear a 300 year echo in Erwin McManus' "Barbarian Way". The church is too often turned aside by what seems Wise. We are content in our Legality and Civility - the only problem is, they cannot save us! All that can save us is to take up our burden, our cross, and barbarically follow the Christ. He alone can lead us to the Eternal. But the path is full of dangers - not comforts. Harsh stone pillows and bitter cold, not padded pews and climate control.

I heard a quote today from C.S. Lewis where he said many preachers seem like "mild-mannered people exhorting mild-mannered people to be more mild-mannered." That doesn't sound like Jesus to me. It sounds like Worldly Wiseman.

May we heed the Truth of God's Word - and follow Him passionately and foolishly enough to resist the wisdom found in the village of Morality. It's just not enough...


  1. I think there's something important to becoming civilized and then morphing into a barbarian - or the other way around, as long as we don't get stuck in the progression to digression. When we pursue generation after generation in one direction, we become solely barbarians, or civilized, but neither are any longer followers of Christ as he would want.

  2. But I'm afraid if we allow the world to civilize us, we will, in part, cease to be what God crafted us to be.

    For a few years of my childhood, we lived next to some government land on which a herd of wild mustangs lived. Occasionally, there would be a roundup and some of the horses would be sold at auction - then civilized.

    The word for that was 'broke'. The wild desire of the horse to follow it's own instinct had to be broken and brought into subjection to the trainer.

    I believe that we cannot have our spirits subjected to God and to the world. If we allow God to civilize us, to place our selves and our will to freedom under his reign, we will look like barbarians.

    I'm not saying we need to live like animals just so we are different. But following Jesus goes against the grain of 'civil' living.

  3. Mike,
    This is a theme I have written about a few times myself. I think one of the reasons Legality and Civility are so deceptive is because they seem so "religious."

    From a preaching and teaching point of view, and I am sure you have run into this, it is easier to talk about being moral and nice rather than talking about submission and obedience.

    I think this is the bottomline: "May we heed the Truth of God's Word - and follow Him passionately and foolishly enough to resist the wisdom found in the village of Morality."

    BTW I liked this so much that I am going to post a link to it at ancient quest. Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Two things are hitting me from your comment Paul:

    I am generally a pretty nice guy, so when I talk about being nice, no one's going to question my integrity. But submitted and obedient... If I'm going to call people to submission to Christ (and I am), then it better be clear by how I live my life that I am submitted as well (I hope it is). Maybe this makes some uncomfortable...

    Not only is it easier to talk about being nice (as opposed to submitted) - it's what most people want to hear as well.

  5. I think the movement away from the civilized version of Christianity (rooted in Roman evangelism)is a good thing. But I am concerned that if we spend more time reading books on how to be civilized Christians, how to be true leader Christians, how to be tribal Christians - than we do reading God's word, praying and participating in God's church as He leads us, then we are pursuing the idea and not the Truth.

    And if we pursue the idea in hopes that it will swing the pendulum back to barbarian belief.... who determines when and at which point the balance between civilzed and barbarian has been reached? What prevents it from becoming compounded barbarianism (btw, I do not believe the metaphor of a pendulum is ever appropriate in God's church because a pendulum is mechanical and God's church is an organism. I think a better metaphor might be fire transforming everything in its path)...

    As a follower of Christ (and a leader and former pastoral staff) I ask those people leading in God's church to allow me to observe the Holy Spirit move in their life - teach me through example - obedience to God's word. Show me personal radical transformation.

  6. Hey Mike;
    Joy from Joy in the Journey, gave me an idea for Ancient Quest. I was wondering if you would be interested. Basically we are looking for other Christian bloggers willing to write one post a week. I would like to have at least five that would be willing to do it. In your case it wouldn't even have to be an orginal post, but it could something you have posted at theoquest as well. E-mail me if you are interested (insertname@yahoo.com) Replace insertname with iasteele.


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