For of what use is the religion of the outward man, if there is not also shown an improvement of the inner? That person can be false and a thief, that person is false and a hypocrite, who displays one quality in his bearing and another in his character. Then let us not be like whited sepulchres, let us study to show ourselves splendid and adorned within and not without; for true religion resides in lowliness not of habit but of heart.
- Columbanus, Sermon II (Irish, 7th century)
"Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness."
- Luke 11.34, 35
There was nothing academic, showy, or otherwise merely fun or superficial about the Celtic Christian approach to learning. Study was for the reformation of the soul - for renewing the mind, firming up the heart's orientation to love God and man, and strengthening right priorities and virtues. They didn't study for degrees and didn't think about things like tenure or publications. They were concerned to be formed from the heart, and to form their students similiarly.
Such learning cannot be accomplished in classrooms or merely by reading books, writing papers, and taking tests. The leaders of the Celtic revival would not recognize what we typically do in the work of Christian education as having much of anything to do with forming people for Christ. Lives are changed in spiritual disciplines, through sacrificial service and self-denial, and by rigorous mutual accountability and edification. Without these, you cannot shape the soul.
Today we are the most Christian-educated generation of Christians that has ever lived. We have more classes, courses, degree programs, websites, seminars, workshops, books, DVD courses, and who knows what else than in all the combined history of the Christian movement up to the last couple of generations. And yet as a community we are more and more reticent and less and less influential in shaping the course of life in the 21st century.
When do we stop doing this? When do we decide that what we're doing is not making disciples but simply maintaining agreeable programs? When will we begin to insist that church members, who have vowed a public confession of faith in the Lord, should be committed to a disciplined life of knowing the Lord, boldness in bearing witness, self-denial in serving others, and determination in seeking the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit in every arena and relationship of their lives? When?
Not until we are revived, that's for sure. We must begin in prayer, daily, fervent prayer that God would revive us, and that right soon. So let us seek the Lord for repentance, revival, and awakening, that we might truly study for our hearts and learn Jesus as He intends.
Today at The Fellowship
As I mentioned yesterday, our new mentoring series on evangelism is just about ready. We expect to offer it after the first of the year, so if you want to learn how to motivate, equip, and involve your people in the work of bearing witness for Christ, this series might be for you. Write me for more information or to discuss this opportunity.
The Pope has offered an opinion on the use of condoms, and the spin is flying in all directions. Maybe he should keep quiet about such things?
How's your spiritual life? Need a boost? Perhaps a Fellowship of Ailbe Mentor could help you get on a sounder and more fruitful track. Check out the opportunities available.
Browse our bookstore for some helpful resources to challenge your vision and practice of the Christian faith. The Legacy of Patrick, for example, can help you to see new ways that God can use your faith in Him to change the world around you.
As ever, thanks so much for your prayers and support of our ministry. You can make an end-of-the-year gift to The Fellowship by clicking the donate button on our home page or by sending your contribution to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 100 Lamplighter Ct., Hamilton, VA 20158.