Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Felicity of Christ

The two eldest Bennet sisters in Austen's Pride and Prejudice are best friends but night and day. Elizabeth is cynical, contemplative. Jane is ever-optimistic, perhaps even naive. She can think of nothing bad to say about anyone. If anyone ever wrongs her, she instinctively forgives (if she can even see the wrong to begin with). In one scene, Jane and Elizabeth are celebrating Jane's engagement to be married. This exchange grabbed me:
"I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!" cried Jane. "Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!"

[Elizabeth replied:]"If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness."

-- Austen, Pride and Prejudice (New York: Readers' League, n.d.), p.330.
There is Spiritual truth here!

Had we 40 shiny idols to buoy our affections, still these affections could not be mustered to enduring happiness. Had we 40 ways in to religious devotion to God, if none of those 40 were Christlikeness through gospel power, we "never could be so happy."

"Have this mind among yourselves," Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5, speaking of Christ's attitude. Weymouth renders the verse, "Let the same disposition be in you which was in Christ Jesus."

There is good news. Romans 8:29 tells us that Christians are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus. We will have his disposition.

The felicity of Christ is conferred to his Bride. Through the power of his Spirit we receive the mind of Christ and the Spirit's fruit, which may be another way to say Christ's disposition. Even the persecuted church has cause for great joy, for unbounded happiness of soul. Because they know Christ in his suffering, they know Christ in the joy set before him.

Until we have his disposition, his goodness, we can never have his happiness.


Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Austen was a shrewd observer of the human heart. :)

Ken Stoll said...

this is great news, meant to mention yesterday. Really good tie in, Phil 2:5 makes more sense reading your post.

Resurrection blessings!

nhe said...

Real men love "Pride and Prejudice"! (not to mention "Sense and Sensibility")....and REAL real men can sit through the 6 hour PBS P&P, which is enthralling....I remember also being taken by this when I saw this scene....but thank you for fleshing it out further - GREAT stuff.

Much like a lot of modern praise and worship misses the richness of the old hymns, a lot of modern fiction doesn't capture the rich, gospel redemptive elements in earlier writing.