There’s a secret library at the top of the stairs at 31 Lynton Road. During my GAP year, I had the privilege of living in this house, the London home of the Servants of the Word. I suppose the room is not really all that secret, it’s just tucked out of the way. For attention, it compares unfavourably with the inviting lounge across the hall and the water closet, next door. For the first few months of my stay, I didn’t give it much thought. It was, and presumably still is, a pretty simple library: about eight mismatched bookshelves, lining every inch of the small room.
But as the year went on, I found myself spending more and more time perusing the shelves. What they offered, in spine after spine of worn-out paperbacks, was a modest but striking survey – theology, philosophy, history, and biography – from the Christian People across time, and across Christian traditions. In many ways, it was an odd collection, but the common thread was Jesus Christ as Lord. And as a member of the house, the Library was mine.
I’ve lived all my life in ecumenical Christian communities, growing up in the Sword of the Spirit. When I think of the people, events, and ideas that have formed me, what ties them together is a firm and total dedication to Christ – they are a denominationally eclectic group, otherwise. Looking back, I would be reluctant to delete the things from my past that fall outside my church tradition. And this is not because I find my church deficient; but because I find my Lord lavish, and near to all who call on him.
Has such an upbringing watered down my faith? I don’t think so. Rather, it’s formed in me an impulse that assumes the riches of Christianity are available to me. I live in a large library.
James is a married man living as part of the Work of Christ community in Lansing, Michigan