As I’ve stepped foot in the hunting industry these last few months, one thing I’ve noticed is that people are drawn together by what they love. Let a fellow bowhunter know that you’re a bowhunter (or in my case, becoming one) and there’s like this instantaneous bond that forms between you. Someone who was all business 10 seconds ago, but who now knows you share their passion, is your new best friend.
It makes me wonder, What unites us as Christians? What’s the foundation, the one thing that draws us together like the bowhunters in their community? Is it a common belief in morality or ethical standards? Is it that we believe in missions? Surely those things are present, but I don’t think they’re the foundation.
I’m going to steal a line of reasoning from Jonathan Edwards here and simply point out that however you answer that question, the foundation of Christianity has to be something distinct to Christians—it’s something no one else has apart from the regenerating work of the Spirit.
So that excludes general morality because it isn’t necessarily a Christian thing, for there are Mormons and secularists who practice and prize some form of morality (it is different than our own, but there nonetheless). Again, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims are probably as vigilant as anyone about spreading their message, so “missions” aren’t distinctly Christian either.
I’m going to let Edwards answer for me:
“The first foundation of the delight a true saint has in Christ is His own perfection; and the first foundation of the delight he has in Christ, is His own beauty; He appears in Himself the chief among ten thousand and altogether lovely. The way of salvation by Christ is a delightful way to him, for the sweet and admirable manifestations of the divine perfections in it: the holy doctrines of the gospel, by which God is exalted and man abased, holiness honoured and promoted, sin greatly disgraced and discouraged, and free and sovereign love manifested, are glorious doctrines in his eyes, and sweet to his taste, prior to any conception of his interest in these things” (Religious Affections, 176).
In other words, “True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections” (23). What sets Christianity apart from any other religion at the core is love, affection for Christ in all of his attributes. The most beautiful thing in all the world, the loveliest taste, the deepest pleasure, is felt in contemplation of Him. That is the heart of what unites Christians everywhere, at all times. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:5). Not just seeing or acknowledging, but delighting in.
I’ve never felt closer to Davin or to understanding him than when I am once again awakened to the reality of joyful satisfaction in God. When I taste and see God’s beauty, there’s a union, a connection, a bond welded between me here and all the saints in heaven, standing before God’s glory now. Like any community, we’re united by our passion, in the Christian’s case for the joy we have in the glory of Christ—he is the object of our highest affection, our deepest delight.
I think Davin is honored, and ultimately Christ, by the lasting impression He created with one man’s life: when I think about Davin, I think about a holy satisfaction in God as more weighty than anything else in life, and when I find my heart’s home in the streams of God’s pleasureful rest, I always return to Davin. The further I get from that singular passion, the further I get from understanding Davin, and the more distant he seems.
It’s this constant and I hope lifelong reminder that like Christ, Davin died to show us this joy in God; he gave his life to show us that the treasure we have in God is worth more than anything we could ever conceive, and infinitely so.
There’s a question I often ask myself, and which sometimes haunts my soul. It’s pertinent to you as well, so ponder with me: do you understand that your joy in Christ is a matter of life and death? If you don’t have that, you don’t have life. Do you live that way? Do you know the joy that makes a man say, “your steadfast love is better than life” (Ps 63:3)?