An Orthodox Christian Honors Chuck Colson: A Life Redeemed by Christ
It is fitting that he went to meet the Lord at the end of what is Bright Week for all Orthodox Christians
We lost an influential and great champion for Christ and truth. Charles W. "Chuck" Colson's bright light is no longer in the world, but still shines on in eternity as a beacon of hope and faith for current and future generations. His legacy and example will live on in the hearts and souls of many Christians - Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant - who were inspired by his strong faith, admired his clarity of thought and vision, and were reassured by his courage and conviction.
LOS ANGELES, CA. (Catholic online) - This past weekend we lost an influential and great champion for Christ and truth. Charles W. "Chuck" Colson's bright light is no longer in the world, but still shines on in eternity as a beacon of hope and faith for current and future generations. His legacy and example will live on in the hearts and souls of many Christians - Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant - who were inspired by his strong faith, admired his clarity of thought and vision, and were reassured by his courage and conviction.
It is fitting that he went to meet the Lord at the end of what is Bright Week for all Orthodox Christians. For during this time the Resurrection Hymn is sung at all memorial services to remind us that Christ's Resurrection destroyed death granting us eternal life: "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!"
Unfortunately, I've never had the opportunity to meet Colson in person. However, I have followed his active Christian ministry and prolific commentaries with a lot of interest and admiration, often sharing his wisdom with many of our Orthodox Christian readers on the OrthodoxyToday.org and OrthodoxNet.com websites.
His clear thinking, Christian worldview, and practical application of Christian moral principles, resonated with many of us who recognized that only Christ can truly heal our suffering, redeem our souls, and bring hope and light into the darkness of this world. In the words of my dear friend Fr. Hans Jacobse, Colson "saw that decline in culture was moral in nature" and he clearly understood that "a return to the values and precepts of the Christian faith were the only hope" for both personal and cultural renewal.
While reading about Colson's life I realized why I felt such a close kinship with him and why his writings felt so familiar. Our individual journeys towards a genuine and committed relationship with Christ do, in fact, share a common thread, the writings of C.S. Lewis; more specifically the powerful impact the book Mere Christianity has had in our lives, as well as countless others whom Lewis touched and influenced over the decades.
Prior to his conviction and incarceration for his role in the Watergate scandal Colson met Tom Phillips, then president of Raytheon. Phillips was a devout Christian who had accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and had committed his whole life to Christ during a Billy Graham Crusade at Madison Square Garden. While at first Colson was not impressed by Phillips, as described by Jonathan Aitken in his biographical book Charles Colson: A Life Redeemed, he was intrigued and surprised by the changes he had seen in him.
The stressed and overworked executive from prior encounters acquired a peaceful serenity and was transformed into a "warmer, more radiant, and more serene human being." Colson noticed "a new compassion in his eyes and a gentleness in his voice." This observation prompted him to reach out to Phillips during the Watergate crisis and ultimately lead to a personal encounter between the two men that changed Chuck Colson's life forever.
During that fateful midsummer meeting, Phillips reached for his copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and read the chapter titled "The Great Sin" in order to awaken Colson's conscience: "There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. . The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit . the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind."
The words of C.S. Lewis had a powerful impact on Colson. "I could feel a flush coming into my face and a curious sensation that made the night seem even warmer. Lewis's words seemed to pound straight at me," he later recounted in his autobiographical book, Born Again.
As Phillips continued to read more from Lewis, Colson's resistance crumbled. ".it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But pride always means enmity - it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God."
"In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that - and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison -you do not know God at all. As ...
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