Monday, 18 August 2014

More? More of what? - Part 1

I was very struck by the following quote from Simon Ponsonby's book "Something More". It's taken from "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Graeme:

"So this is a River!"
"THE River," corrected the Rat.
"And you really live by the River? What a jolly life."
"By it, and with it, and on it, and in it," said the Rat.
"It's brother and sister to me, and aunts and company and food and drink and [naturally] washing. It's my world, and I don't want any other. What it hasn't got is not worth having and what it doesn't know is not worth knowing! Lord! The times we've had together."

Ponsonby uses the quote to launch his book which addresses the hunger that Christians are feeling for more of God. His book locates that hunger and desire in the person of the Holy Spirit - hence the allusion in the above quote. But I think there is more to it than that. Why?.

First, because there is a danger that wanting more of the Holy Spirit can, if we are not careful, be seen as exclusively having more gifts, or seeing more healings, or more speaking in tongues. In other words 'more' can become, if we are not careful, taken up with the exterior manifestations of God's presence rather than God Himself. I am not criticising Simon here or indeed those who, by God's grace minister healing etc in His Name. In fact I admire such people and the ones I know personally are people with a very close relationship with God. But we must take care to preserve a balanced and Trinitarian view of the Christian life and not emphasize one aspect of the Trinity to the expense of the others.

Second, those writing the books about such things have already "put in the hard work" of prayer and self-discipline and are seeing the "more" as the fruit of their relationship with God. So naturally they are excited about this and want to see others benefit from the blessings they have received as a result. But the problem arises that unless the emphasis is placed firmly on the first part - the relationship with God (the roots) then folk will want the 'more' (the tree) but without giving themselves wholly to God.

An example of the true or full Christian life is seen in the lives of the great men and women of God. They pursue God with relentless commitment, passion and desire and give themselves to Him totally for His sake and not for the sake of reward. Their life in God is beautifully summed up in the well-known prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola:

Teach us, good Lord,
to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil and not to seek for rest;
to labour and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will.

Here they discover the 'more' that Simon and others point to and out of this, if God wills it, will flows the gifts and graces that seem to receive the most attention.

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