OUR STORY – GOD’S STORY
For some, Gilbert “G.K. Chesterton just might be one of the most famous writers they have never heard of. I know that was the case when I first stumbled across some of his work some twenty years ago. Chesterton was a brilliant and complex fellow and I have come to appreciate the man and what he has offered to the world, both within the church as well as the secular world at large. Like few others, G.K. Chesterton had the ability to reach a broad range of audience with his writing, whether it was Christian apologetics, fiction, or nonfiction. His best known works in Christian apologetics would include Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. He was also a prolific fiction writer and known for the widely popular Father Brown Series about the adventures of a priest detective.
The thing I appreciate most about Chesterton’s fictional work is his ability to meet people where they were in that he had the ability to weave into his stories important spiritual and philosophical considerations. Whether it was mystery, poetry, essay, or journalism, he, not unlike C.S. Lewis, had the ability to speak about spirituality and the human condition, not only in context of the story, but in relation to the human condition within these varied forms of work. How great to settle into a great mystery, for instance, and discover within it rich spiritual and philosophical ideas.
In a way I think we could really use someone like G.K. Chesterton right now. In the twenty-first century when organized religion and the orthodoxy that Chesterton so loved have become less important for some and a wider spiritual path is being sought by others, he might be just the right sort of fellow to hold the center of conversation. His works display his ability to value paradox. So in a time when on one hand there seems to be a sort of spiritual curiosity rising in the world, yet on the other hand people are not so much looking at the established religious institutions for answers, someone like Chesterton might just the right social-spiritual moderator.
But the good news is, we don’t have to rely solely on Chesterton, although his words can help guide us. We can take on the challenge of meeting people where they are on their spiritual path in life today in our own time. We can help others who are seeking a spiritual connection discover their own truth by weaving into our everyday life encounters the story of our own. Not all of us are prolific writers like Chesterton, but in a way we are just that. Because who we are as people and how we live our life is our own story that holds valuable truth not only for us, but for others. Each one of us is a story and each one of us has Divine Truth within our story to offer the world. Just as Chesterton could weave God into the pages of a fantasy story, we can also bring God into the everyday places of our own world.
We recently had the pleasure and privilege to accompany Gabe and his youth crew for a Friday Night Laundry Love. It was amazing. I love the encounter with others as we helped each other with…laundry…and love. That night was richer than any spiritual classic I have read recently. I don’t think I ever talked explicitly about God that night. But I saw the reality of Divine Love in the smiles, the conversations while inserting quarters, playing hacky-sack with the kids. It just felt good that we were all just simply together. It felt like community as God would imagine it. It felt good to be a part of God’s story that night. This was…the book of life.
So, my hat is off to G.K. Chesterton and all of the other writers who have offered so much to the world and to the church in the way of a closer understanding with God and a better understanding of ourselves. At the same time I also tip my hat to all of us who know that we are all our own part of God’s story written on the pages of very encounter we have with one another.
“Only friendliness produces friendship. And we must look far deeper into the soul for the thing that produces friendliness.”