Schweitzer, Buechner, and Collins

I’m still reading The Faces of Jesus by Frederick Buechner. It’s only 94 pages, but I’m spreading it out, because it’s so good I want to savor it. Two things to share. The first is a quote from famed biblical scholar and missionary Albert Schweitzer at the end of his book, The Quest for the Historical Jesus:

He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside. He came to men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: “Follow thou me!” and sets us to the tasks which He has us to fulfill for our our time. He commands, and to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings, which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.

We can’t convert people by telling them all about Jesus, because we are not capable of doing so. We can only hope to share with them through our words, our deeds, and ultimately our lives, enough that they will begin their own journey of following him and learn for themselves who he is.

The second thing I wanted to reflect on here came a few pages earlier where Buechner aptly summed up: “But if good works are not the cause of salvation, they are nonetheless the mark and effect of it.” I want to add explicitly, what I believe Wesley would have wanted to add explicitly, and that is that good works, the “fruit of repentance” are necessary if we are to continue in the relationship with God that is salvation. Without our active participation, the relationship atrophies and our salvation is lost. Buechner comes very close to this, but not quite. I think it may be a difference between my Methodist background and his Presbyterian heritage. I mean this not as a partisan argument, but rather as a means to emphasize the necessity of always using all of our God-given faculties to carefully consider what it is we are reading.