Daily Riches: Can One Obey Without Actually Obeying? (James Hannay and William James)

The desert hermits “understood the sayings of the Lord and adopted them as a practical rule of life. For most men there is need of certain explanations, of an effort of the intellect, of casuistry, before the Lord’s commands can be reconciled with the maxims which direct the ordinary life. It is necessary to write some gloss beside the saying–’If any man take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.’ Otherwise we cannot but be conscious of a divergence between the conduct which life seems to render necessary and that which is recommended by the Lord. For the hermits and their admirers no such necessity existed. They took the commands of Christ and obeyed them as if such obedience involved no absurdity. …It is perhaps especially interesting to notice that even in the case of postulants, whose hearts shrank back from the prospect of offering the other cheek to the smiter, there is no effort to evade the direct literalness with which the hermits interpreted our Lord’s commands. They hoped, apparently, to be somehow excused from obedience. It did not occur to them to cast round for an explanation of the words which would enable them to think of themselves as obeying while they refused to obey literally.” James Hannay

“…throughout the annals of the saintly life, we find this ever-recurring note: Fling yourself upon God’s providence without making any reserve whatever–take no thought for the morrow–sell all you have and give it to the poor–only when the sacrifice is ruthless and reckless will the higher safety really arrive.” William James

“If someone slaps you on one cheek,
offer the other cheek also.
If someone demands your coat,
offer your shirt also.”
Luke 6:29

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you hear Jesus say to turn the other cheek, to give to someone who asks, or to take no thought for tomorrow, do you find yourself saying, “He can’t really mean that.”?
  • Are you familiar with Christians who have refused to reconcile these commands with common sense (the desert hermits, St. Francis, MLK, Nelson Mandella)?
  • If you were to simply do what Jesus says, and at the same time “fling yourself upon God’s providence without making any reserve whatever”–what frightening thing might happen? …what good thing?

Abba, teach me to fling myself upon your providence without making any reserve. Hold my hand, for I hardly know the way.

For More: The Wisdom of the Desert by James O. Hannay

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I really appreciate your interest! – Bill

 

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