Sunday, October 20, 2019

Chapman: the attraction of belonging

Sunday, October 20, 2019
    Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
    —1 John 5:5 (NIV)
    The sure way to success for any commercial venture is to suggest that those people who buy things from it, or gamble on its terms, are members of a “club,” a “circle.” Study the advertisements in any popular magazine: people are “invited to apply for membership;” “members will receive a catalogue;” they are even offered “rules,” which they gladly accept because the need for authority lies heavily upon them; they then receive a card admitting them to the circle, with the “President’s signature” printed on it. In the need for belonging, the acknowledgement of dependence, may lie the greatest opportunity of the Christian evangelist. It is not unlike the conditions under which the early Church worked. In the later Roman Empire, crumbling under its own size, its communications and resources stretched to the utmost, the mystery-religions came into their own. Rites of initiation, the sharing of secret knowledge, offered to people of all classes an escape from the perplexities of life, a retreat into a closed circle of the elect where they might feel that their transformed personalities had some significance. Who can know how many weary souls there were who strayed into the Church through rumours of a secret rite of purification, of a shared meal that conferred wisdom, and who remained to comprehend the fullness of the Godhead, a belonging greater than they had ever imagined.
    ... Raymond Chapman (1924-2013), The Ruined Tower, London: G. Bles, 1961, p. 110-111 (see the book)
    See also 1 John 5:5; John 14:27; 15:18-19; 16:33; 1 Cor. 10:16; 2 Pet. 1:4
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, nothing can equal belonging to You.
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