3.08.2017

Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXVI

Here are two excerpts from a book I just read, "The Road to Character," by David Brooks:

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You may have the feeling that you are on trial in this life, that you have to work and achieve and make your mark to earn a good verdict. Some days you provide evidence for the defense that you are a worthwhile person. Some days you provide evidence for the prosecution that you are not. But as Tim Keller put it, in Christian thought, the trial is already over. The verdict came in before you even began your presentation. That’s because Jesus stood trial for you. He took the condemnation that you deserve. Imagine the person you love most in the world getting nailed to wood as penalty for the sins you yourself committed. 

Imagine the emotions that would go through your mind as you watched that. This is, in the Christian mind, just a miniature version of the sacrifice Jesus made for you. As Keller puts it, “God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into His family.”

The problem with the willful mindset is, as Jennifer Herdt put it in her book Putting On Virtue, “God wants to give us a gift, and we want to buy it.” We continually want to earn salvation and meaning through work and achievement. But salvation and meaning are actually won, in this way of living, when you raise the white flag of surrender and allow grace to flood your soul.

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The things that lead us astray are short term—lust, fear, vanity, gluttony. The things we call character endure over the long term—courage, honesty, humility. People with character are capable of a long obedience in the same direction, of staying attached to people and causes and callings consistently through thick and thin. People with character also have scope. They are not infinitely flexible, free-floating, and solitary. They are anchored by permanent attachments to important things. In the realm of the intellect, they have a set of permanent convictions about fundamental truths. In the realm of emotion, they are enmeshed in a web of unconditional loves. In the realm of action, they have a permanent commitment to tasks that cannot be completed in a single lifetime. 
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