It’s a strange parallel. And I don’t want to get into the complexities of what some consider the great American novel. My point is the characterization focuses on truly bad people that are wrapped up in lovely clothes, living in beautiful houses, and attending extravagant parties. All are vacant, and despite the packaging, their wretchedness is obvious:
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."
Unfortunately, that’s where my cynical mind went when visualizing the soul within the analogy of St. Teresa: the transparency is beautiful, yet tainted.
But St. Teresa’s focus, unlike mine, isn’t on the negative. She sees the good:
“. . . the soul of the just man is but a paradise, in which, God tells us, He takes His delight.”
I like the adjective choice of “just”. A word that encompasses so much: honesty, fairness, righteousness, and honor.
Those things sound great. But here’s the kicker: the just man probably isn’t that fun at parties. But one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that popularity is highly overrated. It’s a lot of trouble and requires sacrifice, usually in ways one shouldn’t ever sacrifice, and a lesson has to be learned in the end.
In the book of James, the author writes a letter, condemning sinful acts and enforcing the expectations within a Christian life.
“So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls.” James 1: 21
Can one be “just” and live accepting of the world and loved by the world? I don’t know. At some point I believe the honorable must take a stand. And invariably it boils down to the world or God.
These struggles are daily—I know. I went back to work this morning and it was so hard to not get annoyed with just the minor professional dramas. Part of today made me feel inadequate as a Christian. But I realized, now that I depend on God more, He has revealed ways to cope with myself and my own demons. I know so much more now than I did a year ago. It’s amazing sometimes.
At the end of The Great Gatsby, Nick (the narrator) returns to the Midwest and leaves New York and his newfound friends. Nobody particularly is changed at the novel’s ending, but I like to think this is Nick’s redemption and the events within that summer changed him for the better.
Or perhaps it could mean this: to truly change one has to look at the heart of the matter. To truly be obedient to the Word, we must endeavor to that goodness that we find in Christ. We must explore our soul and make it one that the Lord would want to spend time in delight.