"For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders—no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings—may even give it an awkward appearance.”—from Mere Christianity
the ever sassy C.S. Lewis, from Mere Christianity
He was misunderstood and misrepresented, and became the victim of men’s prejudices and vested interests. He was despised and rejected by his own people, and deserted by his own friends. He gave his back to be flogged, his face to be spat upon, his head to be crowned with thorns, his hands and feet to be nailed to a common Roman gallows. And as the cruel spikes were driven home, he kept praying for his tormentors, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’
Such a man is altogether beyond our reach. He succeeded just where we invariably fail. He had complete self-mastery. He never retaliated. He never grew resentful or irritable. He had such control of himself that, whatever men might think or say or do, he would deny himself and abandon himself to the will of God and the welfare of mankind. ‘I seek not my own will’, he said, and ‘I do not seek my own glory’. As Paul wrote, ‘For Christ did not please himself.’
This utter disregard of self in the service of God and man is what the Bible calls love. There is no self-interest in love. The essence of love is self-sacrifice. The worst of men is adorned by an occasional flash of such nobility, but the life of Jesus irradiated it with a never-fading incandescent glow.
Jesus was sinless because he was selfless. Such selflessness is love. And God is love.
John Stott, Basic Christianity
Stott continually schools me in even the most basic areas of Christianity.
D. A. Carson. God Who Is There, The: Finding Your Place in God’s Story