The Mark of the Christian

The Christian really has a double task. He has to practice both God’s holiness and God’s love. . . Not his holiness without his love: that is only harshness. Not his love without his holiness: that is only compromise. Anything that an individual Christian or Christian group does that fails to show the simultaneous balance of the holiness of God and the love of God presents to a watching world not a demonstration of the God who exists but a caricature of the God who exists.

— from The Mark of the Christian by Francis A. Schaeffer, 1970

This concept of holiness and love entwined is behind all the mistakes Christians make. One of the double strand gets loose and my son is in his bed crying because of hurt feelings. Another of the double strand gets loose and we do something on Sunday that is not worshipful. Well, those are just two small examples. Christians make big mistakes, too, and a lot of bitterness and bad feeling builds up because of them. Or an ignorance of the true God grows in people’s hearts.

So we move past the unkindnesses. We strive to be loving.

So we strive toward true holiness. We move beyond the neglect toward God.

Slowly and imperfectly the double strand twines together to form what a Christian looks like, and this is what the Holy Spirit does in us.


A Wrinkle In Time

Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, 1962

Here is where my Christian faith and my love for good literature are battling it out. It’s not in humanist books that exalt man above all else. I know better. It’s not in science fiction books that promote evolution and the Big Bang theory and such things which I firmly believe are not true. My biggest faith/literature battles occur in books by Madeleine L’Engle, who claims to be Christian, and often uses Christian imagery, quotes from the Bible, and characters of faith.

I love the way L’Engle writes. She is so personal, delving into the intimacies of life, and her characters reflect on life in deep, thoughtful ways. She writes with such authority to what goes on inside a person’s mind. The quote above gets at that, I think. She seems to understand things about her characters that she couldn’t have known just by observing real people.

However, there is something about her imagery that goes beyond Christianity and into the wavy, mystical forces of the New Age. Even A Wrinkle In Time, a children’s story, brings us to a place of light and darkness which does not ring true to the Light of God and the Darkness of Hell. I have trouble explaining it, and that is why this is such a battleground. I can’t say to L’Engle, “No, you’re wrong and here’s why.” And I can’t say to myself, “There’s nothing to worry about. She’s on God’s side.” My intuition tells me to take caution because L’Engle’s fiction might influence my faith.