Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mr. Chambers and Mr. Chesterton on the Joy of the Lord

The following is from Mr. Chambers' book He Will Glorify Me:

"We have the notion of joy that arises from good spirits or good health, but the miracle of joy of God has nothing to do with our lives or circumstances or the condition we're in. Jesus does not come to us and say, 'Cheer up.' He plants within us the miracle of the joy of God's own nature. The stronghold of the Christian faith is the joy of God, not my joy in God. It is a great thing for one to have faith in the joy of God, to know that nothing alters the fact of God's joy. God reigns and rules and rejoices, and His joy is our strength. The miracle of the Christian life is that God can give a person joy in the midst of external misery, a joy which gives him or her power to work until the misery is removed. Joy is different from happiness, because happiness depends on what happens. There are elements in our circumstances we cannot help; joy is independent of them all."

The following is from Mr. Chesterton's book Orthodoxy:

"The mass of men have been forced to be gay about the little things, but sad about the big ones. Nevertheless (I offer my last dogma defiantly) it is not native to man to be so. Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial...Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man's ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this: that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small. The vault above us is not deaf because the universe is an idiot; the silence is not the heartless silence of an endless and aimless world. Rather the silence around us is a small and pitiful stillness like the prompt stillness in a sick-room. We are perhaps permitted tragedy as a sort of merciful comedy: because the frantic energy of divine things would knock us down like a drunken farce. We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levities of the angels...There was something that [Christ] hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth."

The following is from Mr. Chambers' book The Place of Help:

"The external character of the life of our Lord was that of radiant sociability; so much so that the popular scandal-mongering about Him was that He was 'a glutton and winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' [John 15:11] The fundamental reason for our Lord's sociability was other than they knew; but His whole life was characterized with a radiant fullness, it was not an exhausted type of life. 'Unless you are converted and become as little children...' If a little child is not full of the spontaneity of life, there is something wrong. The bounding life and restlessness is a sign of health, not of naughtiness. Jesus said, 'I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.' Be filled with the life Jesus came to give. People who are radiantly healthy, physically and spiritually, cannot be crushed. They are like the cedars of Lebanon, which have such superabounding vitality in their sap that they intoxicate to death any parasites that try to live on them."