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The Christ Life-friendship

The Christ Life-friendship

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Published by glennpease
BY JOHN NEVILLE FIGGIS


" Ye are My friends." ST. JOHN xv. 14.
BY JOHN NEVILLE FIGGIS


" Ye are My friends." ST. JOHN xv. 14.

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Published by: glennpease on Apr 17, 2013
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THE CHRIST LIFE-FRIEDSHIPBY JOH EVILLE FIGGIS" Ye are My friends." ST. JOH xv. 14.FRIEDSHIP with Jesus that is the centralfact of our life as Christians. All religionmeans some sort of fellowship between manand the Unseen Powers. But this is "the joy and the glory " of ours that it is a humanfriendship transfigured. " Christianity meansnot a system, not a body of doctrine, not evena Church, but a person Jesus," these werethe words I heard from Mandell Creighton atmy confirmation. Its elaborated theology,its developed organisation, its wealth of beautyand devotion, its splendour of ritual, all itstriumphs of architecture all are but the outcome of this one fact, that men have foundin Jesus a Friend, and lived their lives inHis society. This it is, this sense of friend-1 Preached in Great St. Mary s, before the Cambridge University Church Society.ship, that gives to the Christian life its charm,its aroma of tenderness and intimacy. Itbinds in a union deeper than all differencesmen so diverse as John Bunyan, or WilliamBaxter, or St. John of the Cross, or St. CarloBorromeo, or among ourselves a Pusey or aLiddon, a Henry Martyn, a Westcott, a Wesley.Differing in mental outlook, in range of culture, in theological tendency, in ecclesiasticalclimate, they all agree in this that the bestthing in them, that which still keeps themalive in memory, is this felt friendship withJesus. Take the one saint to whom, afterthe beloved disciple, the heart of Christendomhas gone out, St. Francis of Assisi. Why areProtestants and Catholics at one in their lovefor him ? What is it makes him so wonderful? Assuredly not gifts of intellect, or organising power, or strength of will; but just
 
this, that his life was one long outburst of love to Jesus ; that this friendship saturatedhis being, and issued in all beauties of serviceand love for men.Let us try for a little to trace out someof the meaning of this friendship.1. Friendship brings knowledge. This is afact of common life, though in religion many,The Christ Life 269even good men, seem to think the contrary.But it is the method of experience, and JesusChrist came to show us that it is the way toknow God as well as man. o one is ignorantthat personal intercourse is the main, theonly source of our understanding of oneanother ; or that if we trust to a criticaloutside observation, we are apt to go wrongin judging men. o one but admits that inhuman estimates of all things living, sympathy carries us deeper than cleverness. Andif we are to figure God as a Person, the samemust be, it cannot help being true in ourknowledge of Him ; that is what Christ cameto show us ; " He that hath seen Me hathseen the Father." It is through personalfriendship with Jesus that we come at allclosely to know God ; for " this is life eternalthat they might know Thee, the only trueGod, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."That is why prayer and meditation are sovastly more important than either study orwork (though even good men refuse to seethis) ; that is why the mystic is greater thanthe thinker ; that is why a man of supremegifts of intellect and knowledge said once,"the deepest truths I ever knew I learned270 The Christ Life
 
from old women in their cottages." For thisreason we can never express the true essenceof our knowledge to those without, and theywill always laugh at us. They must." The love of Jesus, what it is,one but His loved ones know."2. Friendship lifts us ; it shows we areworth something. Love always individualisesthe lover ; it makes him feel he is worthwhile. It is the constant and even hackneyedcommonplace of literature and dramatic artthat the love of a good woman will set a badman on his feet again, and redeem thewastrel. The Christian who knows that hehas been worth while to Christ is at once thehumblest and proudest of men. For lovereveals both our wretchedness and our worth.It shows us our difference from what welove, and brings us down ; for the first timeit reveals our weakness and poverty. " I amnot worthy of her ; I am not worthy of her,"is the cry of every lover ; and when, in spiteof everything, he finds his love returned, hiswhole being is exalted. So with us. Whenthat beauty, so strange and so unearthly,first dawns upon us, we know how littleThe Christ Life 271worthy we are ; and it is only because He isall love that He can help us." Know st thou not, how little worthy of any love thouart?How hast thou merited, of all man s clotted clay thedingiest clot ?Whom wilt thou find to love, ignoble thee ?Save me, save only me ? "is the word of Christ to the soul.

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