I am blest with a number of freinds who truly love and honor me. Most of them you would not know but to me they are "friends," a word I cherish the older I get. A few who have walked with me for some years now, would not be known to any of you, and a few are well-known to most of you. The danger, and I have succumbed to it over the years, is to "drop names" here and there to impress readers and potential friends. (Real friends are not impressed anyway,and do not need to be!)
I had dinner last evening with one of my best well-known friends, J.I. Packer. I am struck, after all these years, of how well Packer has retained both his natural and supernatural skills. He suffered a heart attack a few years ago, took great care of himself following a surgery, and is doing as very well for a man who will be eighty years of age on July 22. His witty, reflective and generous spirit is as good as ever. As you would expect of someone like Jim he is encyclopedic in his knowledge, and this knowlege is much, much wider than theology. I always enjoy asking questions, listening, and learning yet again. I also enjoy sharing something of my life too since Jim always invites it, indeed he insists that I do, like a good friend always does.
I thought about all of this as I awoke this morning. I realize that what really makes Jim Packer the man I know and love is his humility. It is not fake. I have seen him under fire and heard him respond to his harsh critics, in tense public and in private settings. I have learned how to better give thanks to God and bless one’s enemies from Jim. I saw this again last evening when I asked Jim how he would answer the question: "How do you want to be remembered as a theologian when you are gone?" His simple, but well thought out answer, is worth sharing. Said JIP, "I want to be remembered as a theologian who pointed people to Christ, much like John the Baptist pointed men to Jesus." May all, theologians or not, live Packer’s words.