Thursday, January 17, 2008

Knights of the Cross

Ever since I was a little boy, I have had a fascination with knights and the age of chivalry. According to The Compleat Gentleman, every knight was supposed to embody four sets of personal characteristics:
  1. The Gentleman: A man of honor, personal integrity, and courtesy.
  2. The Warrior: A man of prowess, skilled and victorious in battle.
  3. The Lover: A man who passionately, yet purely, pursues one woman for his entire life.
  4. The Monk: A spiritual man, devoted to the things of God.
Though it might seem to us that at least some of these characteristics are mutually exclusive and contradictory, the medieval knights nonetheless aspired to and were judged by this ideal. And though in many cases, the reality of knighthood fell far short of the ideals, I still think that its ideals were noble. In fact, with some modifications and adaptation, I think something like the knightly ideal provides an excellent goal for the Christian life as well. As I see it, the fully mature Christian should likewise embody four sets of character traits:
  1. The Monk: Though in my view the monastic concept is a deeply flawed idea in that it is based on the false belief that the truly spiritual life is best lived withdrawn from the world, it’s goal of living each day fully devoted to serving and loving God is something all Christians should pursue. Every believer should have some regular period in which he or she withdraws from the distractions of life in order to seek the Lord and His will.
  2. The Scholar: I believe it is completely impossible for a person to live a successful Christian life without knowledge of the Scriptures. Yet every survey of American Christians reveals an epidemic of Biblical ignorance. Every Christ follower should read through his/her Bible multiple times and be not just familiar with its contents, but fully immersed in them and able to use them as the filter through which to pass all of life’s decisions.
  3. The Lover: In addition to a love for God and His Word, a fully mature believer must have a deep love for God’s other children. After all, the Christian life was never intended to be solitary enterprise and none of the Biblical images used to describe the Church (e.g., Body, Temple, Family) allow for the “rugged individual” approach to the faith. And that love for fellow believers should be evident in how mature believers live—serving the church with their spiritual gifts and caring for the hurting among us.
  4. The Warrior: Just as the Knights of the Round Table devoted themselves to grand, life-altering quests, so the Christian believer has been given a quest by our King. And the goal of our quest is to bring more people under His rule and into the Family of God by sharing with them the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection for our sins.

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