THE DRAMA OF THE CHURCH
The Church is a drama. She represents the greatest drama in the world's history, yea, she personates the whole of the world's history. She originated in an astounding personal drama. Humanly speaking, in the life of Jesus Christ during the three years of His public work there was more that was dramatic, from an outside and inside point of view, than in the lives of all other founders of religion taken together. And speaking from a soteriological and theological point of view, His life-drama had a cosmic greatness, involving heaven and earth and both ends of the world's history. Wonderful was the life of Buddha, but his teaching was still more wonderful than his life. Very striking was the life of Mohammed, the life of a pious and romantic statesman, but his work quickly overgrew his personality. Five years after Mohammed's death, Islam numbered more followers than Christianity five hundred years after Golgotha. But the life-drama of Jesus was and still is reckoned as the most marvellous aspect of Christianity: not His teaching or His work, but His life.
Well, was not His life-drama typical and prophetic for His Church? His Church had to live through all those agonies, external and internal, that He Himself lived through. She had to go through sunshine and darkness, through angelic concerts and devilish temptations, through death and resurrection. In one word, she had to live His life, again and again, treading sometimes quickly, sometimes reluctantly, her path, always asking for light and comfort from her visions of Him. I say the visions of Him, because those visions were omnipotent, including in themselves words and works.
There is an impressive picture now circulating in London of an English soldier lying wounded in agony on the battlefield. Well, what would a Buddhistic painter put as a simile of consolation for the man in agony? What else if not a Buddha's sentence or word? And what would a Mohammedan painter put on the picture to console the expiring soldier if not also a sentence or word from the Koran or an imaginative view of the Paradise which is waiting for him? And you know what a Christian painter depicted--the vision of the Crucified! the soldier lying beneath this vision grasping with his hand Jesus' bleeding feet; this vision of the Crucified is greater than any sentence, any word, yea, it includes all the words of sympathy and of consolation. On another occasion the Christian painter would paint another appropriate vision, and a painter of another religion or philosophy would write another appropriate word. Therefore, it is difficult to learn the Christian religion without pictures, or to teach it without visions.