In preparation for my sermon this Sunday from Deuteronomy 8, a warning against spiritual complacency, I came across this reading from A.W. Tozer’s book entitled, The Root of the Righteous. I thought it worth sharing.
Among evangelicals it is a commonplace to say that the superiority of Christianity to every other religion lies in the fact that in Christianity a Person is present, active, filling, upholding and supporting all. That person, of course, is Jesus Christ.
That is what we say, and say truthfully, by my experience has shown how difficult it is to make this belief a practical force in my own life. And a little observation reveals that my fellow evangelicals for the most part are not doing much better. This mighty world-beating truth gets lost under a multitude of lesser truths and is allowed to lie forgotten while we struggle, mostly unsuccessfully, with the world, the flesh and the devil.
The unique thing about the early Christians was their radiant relation to a Person. “The Lord,” they called Him tenderly, and when they used the term they gave it its own New Testament meaning. It meant Jesus Christ, who a short while before had been among them but was now gone into the heavens as their High Priest and Advocate.
It was this engrossment with a victorious Person that gave verve and vibrancy to their lives and conviction to their testimony. They bore witness joyously to the One who had lived as a true Man among men. Their testimony was not weakened by the pale cast of metaphysical thought. They knew that Jesus was very Man and very God, and He had died, had been raised from the dead and had ascended into heaven. They accepted literally His claim to be invested with authority over everything in heaven, earth and hell. How it could be they never stopped to inquire. They trusted Him absolutely and left the details to their triumphant Lord.
Another marked characteristic of the witness of those first Christians was their insistence that Jesus was Lord and mover in a long-range plan to restore the earth and to bring it again under divine control. He is now sovereign Head of His body the Church, they declared, and will extend His rule to include the earth and the world in His own good time. Hence they never presented Him as Savior merely. It never occurred to them to invite people to receive “peace of mind” or “peace of soul.” Nor did they stop at forgiveness or joy or happiness. They gathered up all these benefits into one Person and preached that Person as the last and highest sum of every good possible to be known and enjoyed in this world or that which is to come. “The same Lord over all,” they said, “is rich unto all that call upon him.” The seeker must own Him Lord triumphant, not a meek-eyed Lover of their souls only, but Lord above all question or doubt.
Today we hold the same views, but our emphasis is not the same. The meek and lowly Jesus has displaced the high and holy Jesus in the minds of millions. The vibrant note of triumph is missing in our witness. A sad weeping Jesus offers us His quiet sympathy in our griefs and temptations, but He appears to be as helpless as we are when the pressure is on. His pale feminine face looks at us from the “holy picture” of the Catholic and the Easter card of the Protestant. We give Him our sympathy, but scarcely our confidence. The helpless Christ of that crucifix and the vacuous-countenanced Christ that looks out in sweet innocence from the walls of our evangelical homes is all one and the same. The Catholics rescue Him by bringing a Queen of Heaven to His aid. But we Protestants have no helper. So we sing pop choruses to cheer our drooping spirits and hold panel discussions in the plaintive hope that someone will come up with the answer to our scarce-spoken complaint.
Well, we already have the answer if we but had the faith and wisdom to turn to it. The answer is Christ Victorious, high over all. He lives forever above the reaches of His foes. He has but to speak and it is done; He need but command and heaven and earth obey Him. Within the broad framework of His far-looking plans He tolerates for a time the wild outlawry of a fallen world, but He holds the earth in His hand and can call the nation to judgment whenever He wills.
Yes, Christian pilgrim, we are better off than the sad Church we can see. We stand in Christ’s triumph. Because He lives we live also. Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.