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Soul Survivor: Robert Cole – the listener

Friday, May 12, 2006

  I am presently reading Paul Yancey's book, Soul Survivor: How my Faith Survived the Church. He writes about 13 people who have impacted him deeply over the years, most of whom he knew personally. Today I was in chapter 5: Dr. Robert Cole.I think the biggest thing I'm getting is Cole's sense of realness with people. "His professors had a tendency to explain away behaviour by slapping a label on it, whereas to Cole any one person seemed unfathomably complex and mysterious." p.94-5. There just are no quick answers, and I don't think God ever intended it that way.

Growing up as a Christian in a decidedly charasmatic church, I always had the sense in others, and especially in me, that "the truth was out there", and that if people just followed the truth, then life would be so much easier. Now I firmly believe in truth, and I believe most people deny it in order to live life they way they want to instead of submitting to something, or someone, higher than themselves. But it just isn't that simple. Cole loved to take so much time with people, to listen to them, to hear their stories, to let them get out their pain and struggles and confusion. Us charismatics want to say "yup yup unh hunh…Look, that's all fine, but if you just give it over to Jesus, everything is going to work out."

God's view of pain and our view of pain is completely different. And the sooner we get down to just loving people instead of telling them to shape up and walk in the truth, the sooner they will see the truth of God's love for them living IN us. Yancey quotes Dorothy Day – "I have some grand notions in my head, but they often fall by the wayside when I'm sitting at the table talking to one person, hearing all that has happened in that one life."

What did I get from this chapter? "Neither do I condemn you. Now, go, and sin no more." Jesus knew it all, and didn't condemn. He hung out with the lowest of the low, like Dr. Paul Brand, whom Yancey writes about in chapter 4. Love doesn't care about any of that. It looks at each person, sees an amazing creation of God, and loves unconditionally.

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