Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: Have You Ever Met A True Christian?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Have You Ever Met A True Christian?

I am currently studying the early church in one of my seminary courses. I have found myself unusually interested in this specific time in church history. I have always been a big fan of Athanasius (ask my wife, that is going to be the name of our dog), but I have recently been studying Basil the Great.

Basil was one of the three great "Cappadocian Fathers" and continued the legacy of Athanasius in defending the full deity of Christ. Although the empire wide persecution of Christians had slacked off, the emperor Valens stood against what Basil so strongly believed. So, on one occasion, the emperor was going to visit Caesarea where Basil was bishop. He ordered the prefect there to "subdue" the bishop before his arrival. When Basil refused to budge on his positions, the prefect resorted to threatening the bishop with confiscating his goods, exile, torture, and even death. When I read the response of Basil, I was moved.
"All that I have that you can confiscate are these rags and a few books. Nor can you exile me, for wherever you send, I shall be God's guest. As to tortures you should know that my body is already dead in Christ. And death would be a great boon to me, leading me sooner to God."

Taken aback, the prefect told Basil that no one had ever spoken to him in such a way.

Basil answered, "Perhaps that is because you have never met a true bishop."

When I read those words last night around 2:30 am on my couch, I put my book down and closed my eyes. When people come in contact with me, are they able to say that they have met a true Christian? Basil was not, I don't think, denying the reality of other bishops across Christendom. Rather, he was demonstrating to the wide-eyed prefect the results of obedient, determined living for Jesus Christ. Results that did not come naturally. They came from a love of God's Word. They came from not being a mere hearer. They came from wrestling with important matters of faith and then, once convinced on an interpretation, not being content with the satisfaction of knowing what you know, but longing for that knowledge to live itself out in practical living. They came from crucifying the desires of self to make way the possibility of the desires of Christ.

I shake hands with hundreds of Christians every Sunday. And they shake mine. I'm not so sure they have shaken hands with a true Christian in the ultimate sense of the word. I'm not so sure I have shaken the hand of all that many myself. Am I really living it? Am I practicing the presence of God? I'm not where I need to be. But maybe tomorrow I can get closer. Maybe tomorrow.


Blogger Mike Ruffin said...

Well said. I wonder the same thing about myself.

March 06, 2008 10:00 AM  

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