Four Absolutes: A Lenten Reflection 

I recently launched into reading a new book; it’s title is “Eric Liddell: Pure Gold”. I’d guest that most of you remember that name from the award winning movie, “Chariots of Fire”. The book provides much of the behind the scene information from the movie. Eric Liddell became an Olympic Champion in the 1924 Paris games. More importantly he gave his life to Jesus Christ and served in China from 1925 to 1945 where he died in a Japanese internment camp.  

A clue is given to how the dedicated life of Liddell began. He made a pledge to the “Four Absolutes” early on in his walk with Christ. 

“Eric was intrigued by the idea of being guided by God, and particularly challenged by the concept of seeking to live each day by the Four Absolutes: absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love.” His friend D.P. Hamilton who introduced the concept to Liddell said with a twinkle in his eye, “I used to prefer Einstein’s theory of relativity … relatively honest, comparatively pure, reasonably unselfish, and occasionally loving. It was easier, but it wasn’t God’s way.” 

quote from Eric Liddell: Pure Gold, by David McCasland, p. 109

In this account I was struck by how we can tend to give ourselves room to be comfortable in our walk with God … to be a relative follower of Christ, setting a standard of doing pretty well … “let’s not be a fanatic, let’s be reasonable”. This reasonableness can easily lead to setting our goal of doing the minimum in following Christ. Christ had another term for this; he called it being “lukewarm”. 

 “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” 

Revelation 3:16 

None of us are perfect, but if we shoot for an A, hopefully we’ll still score a high grade. If we shoot for a C, we may end up with a D or F. The Lord is worth us giving all in serving him … doing our best … shooting for “absolute honesty and purity and unselfishness and love”.

So, let’s think about this. We have a wonderful model in Eric Liddell. And hopefully we’ll have more to share from this very interesting book in the days to come.

Top image credit: Photo of the Eric Liddell: Pure Gold book cover, UK 2012 edition © PA/topfoto, courtesy of Amazon UK and

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