I admit to being a student of our culture and its shifting foundations. An insidious ideology has taken root in the souls of Western men and women, and it won't be eradicated by a simple dose of RoundUp©. Our front lawn is a field of weeds.
As I finished the Gospel of John this morning, I kept thinking about how Jesus was sending his men out into the world, to change it (20:21). But long before they were sent, they were changed themselves. Before one goes, one must be made new.
One of the greatest hindrances to the spread of the Gospel are the men and women who are its messengers. Some travel with a message they've never fully understood, that hasn't yet gripped their souls. They are mailmen delivering letters they've never read.
... Begin With Self
For a few days now, I've been thinking about something that Leo Tolstoy once said. A loose translation goes like this:
"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one seems to want to change themselves."
So, the aspiration of young Americans is to be an "influencer" or, even more desirable, an "activist." Activists abound, decrying injustices that spurn their chosen ideology du jour ... while they continue their personal delusion that they are righteous and noble and good and famous and above the simple rabble of an unthinking world.
Drenched in hubris, they strain out the gnat and swallow the camel.
Their goal is Fame ... not honor or goodness or the right. Fame. A silly bottle-rocket, ephemeral in duration and opaque against the eternal brilliance of a star-studded sky. The older generation might call them a "flash in the pan," "one-day wonders," "charlatans," or "snake oil salesmen."
- Why attempt to change the world if you cannot change yourself?
- Why rush the world into emergency surgery if your only qualification is sleeping at a Holiday Inn Express?
- Why attempt to inoculate the world if you've never taken the vaccine yourself?
- Why virtue-signal, swelling your "Likes" and "Followers" on social media, when your personal life is the sawdust of termite infestation?
Christians Are Not Immune to Nonsense
Far from being immune to self-exultation, many "Christians" actually deem it the best way to reach the world. They attempt to pass on to others what they don't actually possess. In seeking to fulfill Christ's Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), they've attached their wagon to the starry goal of success ... and forgotten the One who commissioned the cause in the first place.
God doesn't need an army of ill-trained, flabby, self-serving soldiers who haven't the internal courage or constitution to die in His service. In obscurity. Away from the praise of others. For their King's eyes, alone.
How about you? Are you in this for His gaze or your glory? Are you willing to live in obscurity for your King?
McCheyne's Example and Wisdom
19th century Scottish minister, Robert Murray McCheyne, who died at 29 from typhus got it right when he said:
- "Above all things, cultivate your own spirit. Your own soul is your first and greatest care. Seek advance of personal holiness."
- "It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful (i.e. awesome) weapon in the hand of God. A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear, and your heart full of God's Spirit, is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin."
- "A real desire after complete holiness is the truest mark of being born again. Jesus is a holy Saviour. He first covers the soul with His white raiment, then makes the soul glorious within - restores the lost image of God, and fills the soul with pure, heavenly holiness. Unregenerate men among you cannot bear this."
- “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.”
Let us follow in McCheyne's trail, doing all we can to change ourselves -- in the power of the Holy Spirit -- and watch God accomplish His results in His world.