ἄσπιλος – aspilos - unblemished - as in... unstained from the world (James 1:27)
I recently read The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book
It is a fascinating read about the intrigue, threats and fears in the years leading up to Boris Pasternak’s winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. That was in 1958 after his novel, Dr. Zhivago, had finally seen the light of day. He did not leave his Russian homeland to receive the prize for fear that he would not be allowed to return.
The reactions to his novel by those who first read it reflect its timelessness:
“that Pasternak, who spent all his life in the Soviet environment, could resist all the external pressures and strictures and could conceive and execute a work of utter independence, of broad feeling and of an unusual imaginative power, amounts almost to a miracle.”
We admire works of literature and the arts when they become a communal experience. They are never better than when they portray the common threads that run through the stories of our humanity, wherever and whenever we live.
As Christians, especially as leaders of others, we need a fixed gaze on the broad picture, a heightened awareness of the common threads that run through the essential Christian experience… wherever and whenever we live. These are the things that sustain us… keep us steady… and center our focus.
Part of our testimony in this world is about remaining unstained… oblivious to the warped anthropocentric mindset that besieges us on all sides… unbending before the pressure to react for reasons of expediency.
Christians are not reactionary. We are the core. We are the steady, white heat. Let others react and live as they will. We have a task - an all-consuming mission - to be what we are, regardless of what that looks like to those around us.
Societal structures and the pursuit of power are transitory. Shrouding our essential testimony with tendentious, political speech seems tantamount to lighting a candle and putting it under a barrel.
Frail grasp on the big picture