Cross Points 2.20.22

Found Difficult

G.K. Chesterton is not a name known by many today, but he was an Englishman of the early 1900’s who was noted for his wit and use of paradox in his Christian writings.  In 1910, for example, he liked to raise eyebrows by solemnly telling visitors that he had “been doing what is wrong” all morning.  Playing with the words, he was referring to a book he was writing, entitled “What is Wrong.”  Over his objections, his publisher will change the name to What is Wrong with the World.  

This witty lampooner of modern theories was also a firm defender of the Christian faith.  He had once flirted with atheism, but through study of the evidence was baptized and defended the faith he once criticized.  During his time, the public loved to read what he writes.  He analyzes literature, jibes at ideas that society takes for granted, jousts with fellow author (and agnostic) George Bernard Shaw, and all the while defends Christianity.  

His book What is Wrong with the World is no exception.  It quickly runs through six editions within two months!  Chesterton’s playful perspective, his amusing paradoxes, keep the reader engaged while making his points.  In one chapter of the book, entitled The Unfinished Temple, Chesterton writes that history is abound with unfulfilled ideals.  “Few people realize how many of the largest efforts, the facts that will fill history, were frustrated in their full design and come down to us as gigantic cripples. Defeated because of excesses, causing people to turn against them.”

Then he makes the statement that will relate his theme to Christianity:

“My point is that the world did not tire of the churches ideal, but of its reality.

Monasteries were impugned not for the chastity of monks, but for their unchastity.

Christianity was unpopular not because of humility, but of the arrogance of Christians.

Certainly, if the church failed it was largely through the churchmen.”

Isn’t that true of our current dilemma with the church in America?  Many have abandoned it, and criticize it, not because it lacks the correct message, but because of the failures of its messengers.  Unfortunately, many who criticize do so never getting past the messengers.
Then Chesterton will write something that will be quoted often in the days to come...

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult,
and left untried.”

Yes, indeed!  The Christian life is not easy.  The way is narrow, Jesus told us, few will find it.  We must take up our cross (living sacrificially) and follow him.  We will be persecuted.  We must love him more than family, more than anything.  It is “the way” and comes with discipleship expectations.  We must work on character traits, on obedience to the commands of Jesus and his apostles.  Many do not and yet call themselves “Christian” anyway.  The world watches and says, “no thanks.”  
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