Saw this article title from BBC, “The Tricks to Make Yourself Effortlessly Charming” To be clear, I’m not against people being charming. In fact, if somehow there really are simple lifehacks that enable you to become charming, I suggest you take them right away. Charming is infinitely better than borish, draining, and toxic.
But I’m intrigued by the idea of an ‘effortless’ transformation into charm. Is ‘effortless’ the thing that is meant to attract us to this pursuit?
Most character development takes discipline and work, because for us to become better, there are obstacles within ourselves that have to be overcome. For instance, what if the reason I am boorish is because I love to talk about myself and I’m generally not interested in other people. Then there is a vice standing in my way between me and charm. That vice being self-centeredness. Charm will be impossible until that vice is overcome.
That vice cannot be overcome until I discover that the new virtue is more beautiful than the selfishness I presently have and currently enjoy. And even once it does become beautiful to me, it will require work re-wire my habits of thought and body towards that new virtue.
And the hang-up beneath that is the vice of laziness that sees work and discipline as inherently ugly and unattractive. This too must be overcome.
All this to say, the idea of effortless transformation sounds great to us. But it tends not to be how true transformation happens. And for that reason there is a deeper work in the soul that has to be done before we can do the work to be charming or whatever else.
“The first great step in evangelising is that we should start with ourselves and become sanctified. . . . When the man of the world sees that you and I have got something that he obviously has not got, when he finds us calm and quiet when we are taken ill; when he finds we can smile in the face of death; when he finds about us a poise, a balance, an equanimity and a loving, gentle quality . . . he will begin to take notice. He will say, “That man has got something,” and he will begin to enquire as to what it is. And he will want it.” -Martyn Lloyd-Jones
“There was an aged woman who credited her salvation to George Whitefield. People doubted this because she was barely old enough to have heard this great preacher from a prior age. She replied that when she was a little girl, he had stayed at her house. “It was not any sermon that he preached,” she explained; “it was not anything that he ever said to me. It was the beautiful consistency and kindness of his daily life . . . . I said to myself, ‘If I ever have any religion, Mr. Whitefield’s God shall be my God.’ ” -Richard Phillips
The Reformation theologian John Trapp sums up Paul’s words here:
This is the sharpest and shrillest note, the boldest and bravest challenge that a human being ever rang in the ears of death. . . . Death is here out-braved, called craven to its face and bidden, “Do your worst!”
“Paul Kurtz, the author of Humanist Manifesto 2000, declares, “The underlying ethical principle of Planetary Humanism is the need to respect the dignity and worth of all persons in the world community.” Murray, Abdu H.. Grand Central Question
BTW NOTE: The Christian critique of humanism is not whether it has ethics, but what rational basis can it provide for ethics once it determines that the universe as no Designer or purpose.
“Between God as Creator and all other things as created the distinction is absolute. There is not another such gulf within the universe.” -Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation
“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” -TIm Lane and Paul Tripp, Relationships
“The fatal flaw of human wisdom is that it promises that you can change your relationships without needing to change yourself.” -Paul Tripp and Tim Lane
“Though the scientist may individually nourish a religion and be a theist in his irresponsible hours, the days are over when it could be said that for Science herself the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Our solar system, with its harmonies, is seen now as but one passing case of a certain sort of moving equilibrium in the heavens, realized by a local accident in an appalling wilderness of worlds where no life can exist. In a span of time which as a cosmic interval will count as but an hour, it will have ceased to be. The Darwinian notion of chance production, and subsequent destruction, speedy or deferred, applies to the largest as well as the smallest facts. It is impossible, in the present temper of the scientific imagination, to find in the drifting of the cosmic atoms, whether they work on the universal or on the particular scale, anything but a kind of aimless weather, doing and undoing, achieving no proper history, and leaving no result. Nature has no one distinguishable ultimate tendency with which it is possible to feel a sympathy. In the vast rhythm of her processes, as the scientific mind now follows them, she appears to cancel herself. The bubbles on the foam which coats a stormy sea are floating episodes, made and unmade by the forces of the wind and water. Our private selves are like those bubbles, – epiphenomena, as Clifford, I believe, ingeniously called them; their destinies weigh nothing and determine nothing in the world’s irremedial currents of events.” -William James, Varieties of Religious Experience
There are a lot of terrible things that happen in the world, even in our own lives. How do we account for inexplicable suffering, sadness, bad situations that are not getting better? If you don’t have a doctrine of the fall of mankind, which broke the world and cursed it, these questions must eat away at your view of the competency of God at being God. After all, why can’t he superintend the world well enough to keep such disasters from happening, why do thing suddenly go wrong for no apparent reason? But if you believe the world is deeply broken because of a primordial act of rebellion against God, then suffering becomes intelligible as a part of the fall out of that original act of rebellion. People suffer because this world is broken by sin.