The Light Shines in Darkness

The Light Shines in Darkness by Leo Tolstoy

Maybe a good sub-title for this book would be, "When Affluence and Scripture Collide."

I was in a Men's Bible Study in an affluent church in an affluent suburb of a significant American city. We were discussing a news article on minimalism and the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 6. Towards the end of the discussion, one of the church leaders, an affluent and educated man, said that Jesus' teachings of Matthew 6.19-24 were not really meant to be taken literally...

Hmmm...

What might happen to you if you chose to practice the teachings of Jesus given in the Sermon on the Mount? More particularly, what might happen to you if you began to apply the teachings from:

What about another perspective? How would you react if a close friend or relative chose to literally apply the Parable of the Rich Young Ruler to his or her own life?

For those that ponder these questions and possibilities and wonder what it means to follow Jesus, I recommend this little book by Tolstoy. It will definitely stir the waters.

The story is written as a play, and as such, is an easy and quick read. The main character is wealthy estate owner, Nicholas Ivanovich. Nicholas begins to question the tame teachings of the Orthodox Church and begins to follow Jesus regardless of the cost. What follows is a discussion with wife, family, friends, and church leaders who think Nicholas has gone off the deep end.

As with a parable, this story invites participation. If you read it, look for your own behavior - good or bad - in the characters of the story. Then read the Gospels and begin asking the question, what does it mean to follow Jesus?

On a side note - the Amazon page for this book claims this is a semi-autobiographical story of Tolstoy's own life. Also describes Tolstoy as an educational reformer, pacifist, and Christian Anarchist...

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