recalled to life.

Beneath that arch of unmoved and eternal lights; some, so remote from this little earth that the learned tell us it is doubtful whether their rays have even yet discovered it, as a point in space where anything is suffered or done: the shadows of the night were broad and black. All through the cold and restless interval, until dawn, they once more whispered in the ears of Mr. Jarvis Lorry—sitting opposite the buried man who had been dug out, and wondering what subtle powers were for ever lost to him, and what were capable of restoration—the old inquiry:

“I hope you care to be recalled to life?”

And the old answer:

“I can’t say.”

-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 6.

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As someone who loves literature and who also serves in the church full-time, I have a tendency to read novels through the lens of church application. Perhaps it was a class I took in college on identifying images of Christ in the novel that led me to this point, but regardless, I scarcely read a story without contemplating relevant imagery to my Christian worldview.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens has been an all-time favourite of mine since the day I reached its conclusion. The French Revolution is a personal fascination, Dickens a beautiful writer, and the story one that grips the emotions and clearly contains a type of Jesus Christ. Win, win, win. Without getting too descriptive and becoming a “spoiler,” I simply want to focus on one motif that struck me and has essentially become the motivation for this blog.

“I hope you care to be recalled to life?”
“I can’t say.”

In a story soaked with Christian metaphor, these three words hold all the significance in the world. Recalled to life.

For M. Defarge in the story, these three words meant release from an extensive spell in prison. They meant a return to the world, admittedly one he hardly understood any longer, but nonetheless a recapturing of freedom and the ability to live.

For the Christian, these words mean much more. They mean everything. They mean eternal life, in relationship with Jesus Christ, in communion with His church. Identity. Love. Fellowship. What these three words mean for the Christian simply cannot be overstated.
And yet, what haunts me is what surrounds those three words.

“I hope you care to be recalled to life?”
“I can’t say.”

It recalls Paul in Galatians, exasperated by a church that has come to be known by God through Jesus Christ, free from the priorities of this world, yet returns to a love for such things, “whose slaves [they] want to be once more” (Gal. 4:9, ESV).

Does it often seem as though the church does not care to be recalled to life?

 

It is the foremost mission of my life as a pastor, and more fundamentally as a follower of Jesus passionate about His church, to see followers of Christ more genuinely and truthfully fulfill the mission of the church.

And what is that mission? To be Christ’s body here on earth. More poignantly, to be the “fullness” of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:23).

That is all-encompassing. It leaves the church with a mountainous task; one that we must approach humbly, fully dependent upon the Spirit who goes before us. But it is a task that is exciting, one for which we were made, and one that, performed obediently, sheds the strongest possible glimpse of His Kingdom come.

 

I believe that this is what every person desires and longs for; Christian or otherwise. A sense of belonging in a community. Christians most certainly desire to see and be a part of a thriving local church community that practically loves in an Acts-type way.

The obstacle that comes before this is simply, are we willing to put in the effort?

 

And the fundamental obstacle before even that is:

Do we care to be recalled to life?

 

-John 10:10