Sunday, September 04, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Can We Learn Something From Mother Teresa?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Dear Mother Teresa poured out her life in doing good works for the poor and downtrodden of the Calcutta slums, all "in the name of Jesus Christ," and yet she has left us her diary notes that say she was at the end of her life bereft of a personal joy in the Lord.

Can we learn something from her sad experience? Her religion was devout Roman Catholicism; she was the most notable "saint," or at least one of their most notable saints in modern times. She had renounced the joys of love and marriage, homemaking and motherhood, and ended life with no children of her own to comfort her in old age, no personal family. What more self-denial could the Lord have demanded of her? You would expect that He whom she served so very earnestly in repeated self-denial would give her assurance of His personal presence in "the joy of the Lord."

But no, her diary is filled with laments of spiritual aloneness that a thoughtful atheist might sympathize with. Is it possible that we Protestants may also live a "Day of Atonement" life of self-denial filled with even painful good works, and we end up dreadfully alone spiritually?

Jesus has cautioned us to think carefully: "Many will say to Me in that [final] day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you'" (Matt. 7:22-23).

We have long been told that the remedy for a sluggish spiritual experience is "get out and work for the Lord." Hence mission trips have become very popular; a few weeks of doing good in a needy foreign land perk us up for another year and give us lots of photos to show and stories to tell.

But is a multitude of good works a substitute for a living faith in a real Christ? Can we learn something from dear Mother Teresa?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 7, 2007.
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