What is it about us that we become so easily content with our devotion to God, and so easily discontent with the temporal and worldly circumstances that we find ourselves in?
I remember listening to a sermon by A. W. Tozer one time, where he was dealing with godly living, and one of his points was, “Simplify Your Life.” It struck me then, but it has not been until right now that the power of that advice has come home to me.
Breaking the silent noise
I’ve been thinking about this day which we’re living in, and all the pleasures and blessings which it has brought to mankind. There are no doubt many benefits of the 21st century. It is ‘The Information Age.’ A time when realms of information is accessible to much of the world. But this brings its own problems, and along with it we are now in what we may term, ‘The Perpetually Distracted Age.’
There’s just so much stuff to do, and experience, and to get caught up in, that ‘meditation’ has become nigh obsolete. The fruits are, I believe more than anywhere else, being seen in the shallow view of Christian living that is evident all around us.
In order to fit in all the stuff we want to enjoy in our lives, we’ve reduced ‘knowing God’ to a prayer for forgiveness and church attendance. It’s tragic! Even the office of the preacher has been reduced to that of an entertainer. Indeed, he’s not much of a preacher who doesn’t know how to crack a joke.
Learning from godly examples
I’ve been very much impressed recently by reading Andrew Bonar’s, The life of M’Cheyne and Tozer’s, The Pursuit of God. These men spoke of sin and God as if they lived on a different plane. They sought endlessly to subdue the corrupt nature and banish all sin from their lives.
Note this from M’Cheyne,
“I am persuaded that I shall obtain the highest amount of present happiness, I shall do most for God’s glory and the good of man, and I shall have the fullest reward in eternity, by maintaining a conscience always washed in Christ’s blood, by being filled with the Holy Spirit at all times, and by attaining the most entire likeness to Christ in mind, will, and heart, that it is possible for a redeemed sinner to attain to in this world.
“I am persuaded that whenever any one from without, or my own heart from within, at any moment, or in any circumstances, contradicts this — if any one shall insinuate that it is not for my present and eternal happiness, and for God’s glory, and my usefulness, to maintain a blood-washed conscience, to be entirely filled with the Spirit, and to be fully conformed to the image of Christ in all things — that is the voice of the devil, God’s enemy, the enemy of my soul…”
It goes on and on, and he notes down that which would help him to examine his own heart. It’s extremely solemn and searching. No wonder people fell under conviction of sin before he even began to preach. His countenance was solemn and yet radiated with the glow of a man who had been with God. People knew when he preached, it was a message from God; it was real!
Tozer was similar. In reference to Matthew 16:24-25 he said,
“The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones who possess the kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing.”
I honestly think that we’ve reached a point where the vast majority of evangelical and reformed Christianity may be addressed as Paul addressed the Athenians, “Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.”
We’re worshipping a god of our imagination. We no longer really know Him. Men stand up at the end of meetings and pray, ‘We thank thee for thy presence’ and everyone in the congregation knows God wasn’t really there. I’m not sure if it’s assumption, if we’ve forgotten what it’s like for God to manifest Himself, or somethine else. But, there’s no power. There’s no sense of glory. There’s no conviction of sin.
“Where is the LORD God of Elijah,” was the cry of the old prophet, and it may rightly be our cry too. The answer? “Your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
May God have mercy on us. May God have mercy on me.