Wrestling with Francis Schaeffer

I finished Schaeffer’s True Spirituality a couple of weeks ago and it is still wrestling with me (for me that’s a sign of a good book). He had some very interesting things to say about relationships with others. In the context of cramming people into programs he writes a stinging commentary on trying to mechanize relationships:

Every man is my neighbor and is to be treated in proper human, man-to-man relationship. Every time we act in a machinelike way towards another man we deny the central teaching of the Word of God – that there is a personal God who has created man in his own image.

For example when we see someone as LOST and then try to EVANGELIZE that person, we need to watch out for the danger of trying to put the person into a mechanized system of persuasion, evangelism becomes “subhuman-legalistic and impersonal”.

Another challenge is not to search satisfaction from a person or institution but from God, to quote Schaeffer again:

But when I am a creature in the presence of God, and I see that the last relationship is with an infinite God, and these human relationships are among equals, I can take from a human relationship what God meant it to provide, without putting the whole structure under an intolerable burden. More than this, when I acknowledge than none of us are perfect in this love, I can enjoy that which is beautiful in a relationship, without expecting it to be perfect.

Practically that means:

– If I try to find satisfaction from my wife (Lollie) apart from God then I place her under an intolerable and impossible burden.
– When I make an idol out of church, trying to find my identity from her or by trying to sort her out, then I will be left empty, and full of bitterness. Adultery with the church is a dangerous affair.
– Whenever time spent with God diminish frustration with people or institutions increase.
– It is dangerous to forget that we as humans are created as equals. We all need God!