After Augustine ends his life story, he shifts his emphasis to pondering the goodness and power of God. This leads him into basic theology about God’s nature and the meaning of time. “It is not with a doubtful consciousness, but one fully certain that I love You, O Lord,” he prays. “You have smitten my heart with Your Word, and I have loved You. Speak to me! Converse with me! I have believed Your books, and their words are very deep.”

Augustine’s thoughts on God’s nature and definition bring him to meditate on what God means to man. “But your God is the life of your life,” he explains. “A happy life is joy in the truth. All wish for this happy life; all wish for this life which is the only happy one. I have had experience with many who wished to deceive, but not one who wished to be deceived.”Augustine describes the lusts of the sinful nature and the pride that exists in every man. He discusses the furnace of the tongue, but as always, arrives back at the Reconciler between God and man – Jesus Christ. He tries to comprehend time, and then tries to do the even harder task of describing its meaning.

Yet it is clear that the most meaningful and most important interpretation in Scripture for Augustine is the way that God created the earth. He writes two separate Confessions on this subject, devoting more time and space to the opening verses of Genesis than to any other passage in the entire Bible, and he never commented on the full text of Genesis. “Let Your works praise You, that we may love You; and let us love You that Your works may praise You,” he prays near the end of the book.

Augustine’s Confessions is a treasure of Christian thought and is a fascinating autobiography. His story of “God’s chasing him” and his futile search for true joy and lasting happiness is one of the most interesting Christian books in history. Rarely does one have the opportunity to read a document that is so “alive” from a theologian in the 4th century.

There are several applications that the Christian of today can put into practice. First of all, the prayer of a fervent mother for her son will not go unheard. Monica’s pain and agony over her son’s rejection of Christ is soothed only by the prayers she continues to lift up to heaven for his sake. An application for the Christian minister is to avoid the mistakes of Ambrose with regard to personal time and discipleship. It’s quite possible that Augustine would have come to faith in Christ faster, had Ambrose been accessible to him. When the Christian leader spends too much time in study and too little time with people who need him, he has failed. Of course, the greatest application for the Christian is to praise and worship God in the majesty in which Augustine does. The man’s powerful relationship with God comes through the entire book, even in the sections written about his life before Christ.

Why would one write about all the pain and agony of a life before Christ? Why would someone give words to their personal struggles? Augustine addresses this issue best in his own words. “The commander triumphs in victory; yet he could not have conquered if he had not fought; and the greater the peril of the battle, the more the joy of the triumph. The storm tosses the voyagers, threatens shipwreck, and everyone turns pale in the presence of death. Then the sky and the sea grow calm, and they rejoice as much as they had feared. A loved one is sick and his pulse indicates danger; all who desire his safety are themselves sick at heart; he recovers, though not able as yet to walk with his former strength; and there is more joy now than there was before when he walked sound and strong… The greater joy is everywhere preceded by the greater pain.

written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog