In his younger days, Augustine mocked the seeming contradictions and inconsistencies in the Christian Scriptures. They were a great obstacle to him. But after his conversion, under the erudite preaching of Ambrose, everything seemed to change. In fact, as a preacher, it led to him seeking out knotty issues in the Scriptures and presenting them to his congregation! I admire his boldness and the way he analysed contradictions so eloquently. One such issue, which Augustine raised with his congregation, is from 1 John 4 which says that “perfect love casts out fear,” yet Psalm 19 says “the fear of the Lord is pure and lasts forever.” So he asked the question,
if two pipes filled by one breathing sound in unison,
can two tongues, filled with the Spirit or Breathing of God, make a dissonance?
He went on to elaborate that there are different kinds of fear in the Scriptures, the fear of punishment and the fear of being separated from the presence of God for whom we yearn. The fear which is not yet pure, he said,
comes not from the love of God, but from the fear of punishment:
but when you fear God lest His presence forsake you,
you embrace Him, you long to enjoy God Himself.
Augustine was a man who yearned after God, and as I reflect on his thoughts I am stirred in my yearning for God too. May your longing and love for God this week draw you into a unison “with the Spirit or the Breathing of God.”
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash
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