This week’s post originally appeared as a Facebook “Note” on November 8, 2011. It has been expanded slightly for use here. Although “Paw’s” birthday is a couple of weeks away, I am publishing this today because it is my regular practice to publish Christianity-related writings on the fourth Friday of each month.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
My grandfather would have turned 93 on November 8. For me, he remains the greatest exemplar of practical godliness, of practical Christianity, that I have ever known. This man was not a theologian. The modest collection of books he left behind, which seemed formidable to me as a child, included only a few theological volumes that are of interest to me now as (if you will forgive this expression) an amateur student of theology. Although in his later years we had a number of delightful discussions that touched on matters of faith, life, and the church, I’m not really sure what he thought about some of the theological minutiae with which I sometimes concern myself. A lifelong Southern Baptist (and, amazingly by today’s standards, a lifelong member of the same local church), I doubt he would have called himself a Calvinist, though he did enjoy watching and hearing D. James Kennedy preach on television and once said to me “You know, he’s a Presbyterian, but he believes what I believe.”
No, Chester Robinson was not a theologian, but he loved the Lord Jesus Christ. How do I know that? “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:18) This was a man that never had tremendous amounts of money, yet he always gave liberally to his church and to those in need. He planted a vegetable garden every year until he died (though Mom and Dad eventually did most of the work), and was always taking bags of food to people in the community. Sometimes he and my grandmother would pick up children from nearby houses on Sunday morning and take them to church with them. He served (as do my Dad and me) as a Gideon for many years, seeking the spread of God’s Word. When my grandmother took ill with dementia he visited her in the nursing home almost every day for nearly seven years, always with a smile and an apple or ice cream or some other treat, always happy to see his bride, even when she said little and seemed to be unaware of what was happening. Before she took ill they prayed and read Scripture together every night, a habit that he continued alone until he joined her in our Lord’s presence. As a child I noticed this, and assumed it was normal. As an adult, I am moved to tears to think of how my grandparents loved the Lord Jesus, and what a blessing it was that they prayed for me so diligently and faithfully.
Theology is important. I’m a Calvinist and a Presbyterian because I believe Scripture demands that I be so. Sometimes, though, Reformed folks have a way of arguing in blogs and magazines and online forums about various theological shibboleths while forgetting that Christ demanded that ours be a faith that results in action—actions like persistent prayer, and simple works of charity and mercy:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (Matthew 25:31-36)
Thanks, “Paw,” for teaching and for SHOWING us what it is to be a Christian. I look forward to seeing you again one day. I love you.