“Friendship should not depend on how the other person responds to the Gospel. … We must love each person for himself.”
~ I suppose this can be described as conditional love.
“But let us never naively think that we have converted a soul and brought him to Jesus Christ. When someone says, “I have converted twelve people!” I think I know what he means. But I shake my head in amazement and which that he knew a little more about what he meant. No one calls Jesus Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”
~ Little mentions avoiding Christian vocabulary we are all too familiar with but the non-Xtn does not understand. Little’s book was written in 1964 and what was true then is even more true now. Today we simply cannot assume that a person understands what words like sin, atonement or salvation mean. We have to avoid Christianese.
* Note to the philosophically inclined – never talk in the following manner with unbelievers:
“If P loves Q and does X for Q…”
Rather say something like:
“Look. If So-and-So loves someone and does such and such for her…”
Little uses a very apt metaphor to explain what it means to accept Christ. He uses the metaphor of marriage.
~Believing in a person does not make you married to that person. You have to make a commitment – “I do” – to that person and thus receive that person into your life, thereby entering into a relationship with that person.
~ Believing all sorts of facts about a person does not make you married to that person. You have to ultimately accept that person himself (or herself).
~ “If we simply convert the intellect, but do not convert the will, we won’t have a Christian… On the other hand, an emotional assent to Christ, divorced from mind and will, would again mean an incomplete conversion. The total personality – intellect, emotions, and will – must be converted.”
~ W.R.T. Revelation 3:20, (Behold I stand at the door and knock…) Little says, “Showing him this verse, I often ask an interested student, ‘Suppose someone came to the door of your room and knocked. How would you get the person inside?’ The student thinks for a moment and then says, ‘Why I’d open the door.’ I say, ‘Exactly. And then what would you do?’ Invariably they respond, ‘I’d invite the person in.’ Usually a flash of insight crosses their face as they realize that this is exactly how one becomes a Christian.”
Chapter 6, Christ Is Relevant Today lists out a number of existential and spiritual issues that people struggle with. I found this chapter to be quite interesting because Little addresses issues that I have seen or sensed these sorts of issues in an amorphous sort of a way in my own and other peoples lives here and there. However I have never actually stepped back and articulated to myself what sorts of issues were out there and what was the nature of each of these issues. Little does that and his list is quite helpful.
Little’s list of the spiritual/existential issues that man struggles with:
1. Inner Emptiness
~ spiritual vacuum / aching void issue
~ The solutions that people pursue: getting immersed in activities or losing oneself in some kind of external stimulation.
~ Little: “Nothing external can produce lasting satisfaction. Satisfaction that lasts must come from what is inside us.”
~ Short-lived purposes do not last. Nor do they give ultimate satisfaction.
~ God’s will is key. It provides significance, meaning and purpose.
3. Fear of Death
4. Desire for Inner Peace
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled.”
“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:20
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:8
6. Lack of Self-Control
~ God gives us power to exercise self-discipline.
7. Thinking Needs Integration
~ The example Little uses is that of a college student who told him that he could not integrate the various things that he had studied at school. He could not see how they related, one to the other.
~ ~ Speaking for myself, I think that we by nature also have an innate desire for an integration of the various aspects of our lives. We do not want to live lives of double-truth. For example, I want to be able to stand up for the same values at the workplace and at home.
~ Little points out that “All kinds of things begin to fall in place in Jesus Christ as we come to see Him as the One who ultimately is the only Truth.”
~ ~ Again, speaking for myself, I like to say that Jesus is the Join of the Universe.