published Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Mohney: Moving beyond a religion and into a relationship

By Nell Mohney

Two books have strongly affected my spiritual life. One is “Mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis. Halfway through the book, I became a follower of the Galilean.

The second book, “The Divine Yes,” was written by Dr. E. Stanley Jones, a missionary to India and evangelist to America. His book came into play in 1950, when my husband was appointed pastor to Washington Pike Methodist Church in Knoxville. It was a fast-growing suburban church, full of wonderful people.

In our second year there, my husband, Ralph, asked if I had a suggestion for speaker at our Spiritual Renewal Week in the summer. Quickly, I replied, “Yes. Dr. E. Stanley Jones.”

Laughingly, Ralph said, “It’s time to stop dreaming and get practical.”

“I know that it’s a long shot,” I said, “but how do we know without asking?”

Wonder of wonders, Jones was to be speaking in several events in the Southeast that year, so he accepted my husband’s invitation. It is still the “shining hour” of my spiritual journey. That mighty, international Christian not only spoke in our church, but he also stayed in our home.

All those memories cascaded through my mind when I interviewed Don Foster, who recently returned to Calcutta for his ministry to children there. He told me that he was born into a Christian home and became what he called a “conventional Christian.”

His real God, however, became financial success. He said that, when his job was downsized and he found himself in an unwanted divorce, he finally saw himself as he really was. One of his daughters, realizing that he was discouraged, invited him to go with her church group on a mission trip to India.

A part of the tour was to visit in the modest home of Mother Teresa. There he saw Christianity at its best.

“Though her mission is to bring love to the dying,” said Don, “there is nothing sad or grim about her. She is full of joy and laughter and service.”

He concluded that the difference is that many Christians have a religion, but those alive in faith have a relationship with the living Christ.

Contact Nell Mohney at nellwmohney@comcast.net.

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