Christians with low expectations

I am doing some research on St. John of the Cross, author of Dark Night of the Soul and other spiritual classics. Along the way I came across this quote by Bede Frost, who wrote a book about John in 1937. Frost observes that in the New Testament, language was routinely used that spoke of us being "in Christ", growing up "into Him in all things" (Eph 4:15), and no longer living but "Christ living in me" (Gal 2:20). Frost writes,

"The factual nature of the Christian life as defined and described in the New Testament has been so forgotten, being overlaid by the modern conception of its being the sum of our activities aided by grace operating on us from without, in something of the way that steam-power acts upon the pistons of an engine, or the influence of a teacher acts upon a pupil, that we have come to regard such words as either rhetorical exaggerations or as expressing some 'experience' known only to the Saints" (p. 58-59).

This is a long sentence, but it speaks important truth. Here are three points Frost makes:

1. In our time, it is easy for us to think of the Christian life as a set of activities (albeit activities aided by grace). On the contrary, the Christian life is an abiding and dwelling in the person of God.

2. In our time, it is also easy for us to think of God as operating from the outside, attempting to influence us as beings who are nonetheless autonomous and separate from God. On the contrary, as John of the Cross teaches, we find true life in surrendering every shred of autonomy and separation from God.

3. Most Christians have low expectations. We think the Christian life amounts to doing good things and feeling a smidgen better about ourselves and the world. On the contrary! The Christian life is the greatest adventure of all, because we are immersing ourselves in the life and being of the God of all creation. This is for all of us, not just a few special ones.


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