Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

17 June 2009

Gonzales on Athanasius - Something for all of us

I have been reading "The Story of Christianity: Volume One" by Justo Gonzales from my reading list. Last week I read a chapter on Athanasius, a hero of fourth century Christianity. (Find him in Wikipedia here!) He was truly a great man of his time and God used him mightily for the Kingdom.

But have a look at how Gonzales describes this man early on in the chapter. (Please note, the following quote is one complete paragraph in the book. I have divided it up and the italics are mine, just so that you can see clearly what is going on here.)

Of all the opponents of Arianism, Athanasius was the most to be feared. The reasons for this were not to be found in subtlety of logical argument, nor in elegance of style, nor even in political perspicacity. In all these areas, Athanasius could be bested by his opponents.

His strong suit was in his close ties to the people among whom he lived,

and in living out his faith without the subtleties of the Arians or the the pomp of so many bishops of other important sees. His monastic discipline,

his roots among the people, his fiery spirit, and his profound and unshakable conviction

made him invincible.

I was SO encouraged to read this. Although his great learning, capacity as an orator and ability to lead were important (he had a big job to do so he needed a certain skill set!) what helped him to cross the line, in Gonzales view, was how he lived.

We may not be in a position to do significant theological study, we may not be good at public speaking and we may not find ourselves in a position of leadership such that we find ourselves with a great sphere of influence.

But we can all live well.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11-13

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