thoughts on “Being the Body”

I just finished reading Being the Body by Charles Colson and Ellen Vaughn. A friend lent it to me months ago, but during the school year I don’t get much chance to read.

Anyway, the book’s central theme is the Church in its worldwide (“the church universal”) and local (“the church particular”) incarnations. Colson presents a small host of principles, purpose statements, and stories, all focused on what it means to be the Body of Christ in the world and how we can live that out.

He has some good things to say, but to me, the best part of the book was the stories. I couldn’t actually tell you what most of his overall points were, but I can relate most of the stories in detail. They’ll stay with me for a long time–the stories of Rusty Woomer, the murderer who became a Christian on death row and shone the light of Jesus till the minute he died, the Christians in Eastern Europe who helped bring down the Soviet empire from within, the priest who volunteered to starve to death in Auschwitz so another could live, the Russian girl who found God in novels, snow, and logic.

These stories are inspiring and powerful and will stay with me. It occurs to me that storytelling is so powerful because it takes us past principle and purpose and says, “Look, here’s what love looks like. Now go out there and love.” And the stories themselves go so deep into us that we can’t not hear them and be changed.

As a writer, I was also challenged (and encouraged) by these words in chapter 26, “Being Salt”:

“Being salt demands an understanding of our cultural environment and the use of innovative strategies for infiltration and influence. Writers have been doing this for centuries, with the result that much of the classic literature of the past three hundred years contains Christian truth. The great Russian works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Pushkin, for example,with the Christian message salted in their pages in such a way that the Communists forgot to ban them, were the books that led Irina Ratushinskaya toward Christ.

“In many ways, literature has the most lasting power to shape ideas. Great books are read, reread, passed around, discussed, debated, and then passed on to succeeding generations.

“Today, many writers reveal in their work the incoherence, shattered logic, and relativistic chaos that mark a culture that has lost its understanding of order and truth. So when a writer who is a Christian crafts words and stories that spring from a world-view informed by truth, he or she is salting modern culture.”

And that, in large part, is why I write.






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