Doesn't a revival begin first individually and than corporately? I remember reading the story of Brother Yun from his book "The Heavenly Man". It began with him praying for a bible because they did not have on in his village. After he fasted and prayed for many days for a bible he went about the village reading to the other christians as they met secretely in their homes and revival broke out.
I know I cannot say "I want revival" without it first happening in my own life. I know most of you know how to bring about personal revival in your own life so it's not like I am asking how we should go about doing it. God has spoken to you and He speaks to each of us according to our need but it's basically the same message. I'm just wondering atleast for myself if we get focused too much sometimes on revival in the church as a whole than on our own personal revival.
Don't get me wrong though meeting with likemined people is a great place to start. It's encouraging to meet with others who do want revival. Like our pastor always tells us, "it's what you do with your life though after you go home."
I'm afraid sometimes that the focus is too much on what everyone else in the church is doing than on what were doing. I'll use the example of Brother Yun again. Brother Yun did not look at the condition of the church when he began praying for his bible. He also did not let the condition of the church deter him as he went about the village visiting these other christians. He got busy for the Lord and began doing what God called him to do and it spread like wildfire.
Anyway I just wanted that to be an encouragement to eveyone today that you can have revival today just as Brother Yun. :-)
| 2008/3/14 9:18|
| Re: Revival|
In Phillip's thread 'How do we learn', dohzman shared this -
[color=0066CC]'... here's the whole matter in a nut shell
Joh 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.
Joh 8:32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
we learn by doing >>>How can we truly help each other to see the truth that is of God?>>>simply living the doctrines of Christ. Nothig else will do, no amount of teaching, no amount of learning, The gospel is to be believed and done.'[/color]
.... which is very like what you've just posted, Psalm18.
This has been a recurring theme in SI forums. It's been a steady challenge.
| 2008/3/14 13:38|
The gospel is to be believed and done.'
Amen sister! I'm preaching to myself today too. There is this woman at my workplace that I had been witnessing to. She had been away from the Lord and I have been trying to encourage her. Well today she came up to me with tears in her eyes and she said "I have a testimony that I wanted to share with you."
She said that she was short on money for her mortgage payment and as she was driving over the bridge crying she asked the Lord if He could please provide the money for her. Well she was having problems with her tv set and to make a long story short she took it back and they gave her an extended warranty plus an 800.00 check.
She said that she was so touched by the fact that God loved her so much that He would do that for her. :-) Her faith is growing and I was rejoicing all day over it. In a way I have been wanting to find a new job but I like being there for her. I feel like in a way I have a responsability. It's not just about my happiness or comfort.Sometimes we have to give up our wants and rights for the benefit of others.
While were out trying to reach the lost we can't forget about our brothers and sisters who are hurting and in need.
| 2008/3/14 13:55|
A FORMULA FOR PERSONAL REVIVAL
1) Get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself. Complacency is the deadly enemy of spiritual progress. The contented soul is a stagnant soul.
2) Set your face like a flint toward a sweeping transformation of your life. Timid experiments are tagged for failure before they start. We must throw our whole soul into our desire for God.
3) Put yourself in the way of blessing. Its a mistake to expect Gods help to come as a windfall apart from conditions known and met. To desire revival, and at the same time to neglect prayer and devotion, is to wish one way and walk another.
4) Do a thorough job of repenting. Hasty repentance means a shallow spiritual experience. Let godly sorrow do her healing work. It is our wretched habit of toleration sin that keeps us in our half-dead condition.
5) Make restitution wherever possible. If you owe a debt pay it. If you have quarreled with anyone, go as far as you can to achieve reconciliation. As fully as possible, make the crooked straight.
6) Bring your life into accord with the Sermon on the Mount and other such New Testament Scriptures as are designed to instruct in the way of righteousness. An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil is sure to find out whats wrong with him quickly.
7) Be serious minded. The people of the world used to go to the movies to escape serious thinking about God and religion. There must be a radical change in your habits, or there will not be any permanent improvement in your interior life.
8) Deliberately narrow your interests. Too many projects use up time and energy without bringing us nearer to God. The mansions of the heart will become larger when the doors are thrown open to Christ and closed against the world and sin.
9) Begin to witness. Find something to do for God, and your fellowman. Make yourself available. Do anything you are asked to do. Learn to obey.
10) Have faith in God. Begin to expect. Look up toward the throne. All heaven is on your side. God will not disappoint you.
These suggestions constitute a formula for personal revival. When personal revival is experienced, there is no knowing how far it may spread. The Church is in desperate need of a spiritual resurrection and it can only come through the revived individual.
| 2008/3/14 19:38|
2 Kings 23:1-28
1And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
2And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.
3And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.
4And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.
5And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.
6And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.
7And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
8And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city.
9Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.
10And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
11And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathanmelech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
12And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
13And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.
14And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.
15Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.
16And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.
17Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Bethel.
18And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.
19And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel.
20And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.
21And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.
22Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;
23But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem.
24Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.
[u][b]25And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him. [/b][/u]
26Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.
27And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.
28Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
| 2008/3/15 4:00|
Five Vows for Spiritual Power
by A. W. Tozer
Some people object to taking vows, but in the Bible you will find many great men of God directed by covenants, promises, vows and pledges. The psalmist was not averse to the taking of vows: Thy vows are upon me, O God, he said. I will render my praises unto thee (Psalm 56:12).
My counsel in this matter is that if you are really concerned about spiritual improvement--the gaining of new power, new life, new joy and new personal revival within your heart--you will do well to make certain vows and proceed to keep them. If you should fail, go down in humility and repent and start over. But always keep these vows before you. They will help harmonize your heart with the vast powers that flow out and down from the throne where Christ sits at the right hand of God.
A carnal man refuses the discipline of such commitments. He says, I want to be free. I don't want to lay any vows upon myself; I don't believe in it. It is legalism. Well, let me paint a picture of two men.
One of them will not take vows. He will not accept any responsibility. He wants to be free. And he is free, in a measure--just as a tramp is free. The tramp is free to sit on a park bench by day, sleep on a newspaper by night, get chased out of town on Thursday morning, and find his way up a set of creaky stairs in some flophouse on Thursday night. Such a man is free, but he is also useless. He clutters up the world whose air he breathes.
Let's look at another man--maybe a president or prime minister or any great man who carries upon himself the weight of government. Such men are not free. But in the sacrifice of their freedom they step up in power. If they insist upon being free, they can be free, just like the tramp. But they choose rather to be bound.
There are many religious tramps in the world who will not be bound by anything. They have turned the grace of God into personal license. But the great souls are ones who have gone reverently to God with the understanding that in their flesh dwells no good thing. And they know that without God's enablement any vows taken would be broken before sundown. Nevertheless, believing in God, reverently they took certain sacred vows. This is the way to spiritual power.
Now there are five vows I have in mind which we do well to make and keep. The first is: Deal thoroughly with sin. Sin has been driven underground these days and has come up with a new name and face. You may be subjected to this phenomenon in the schools. Sin is called by various fancy names--anything but what it really is. For example, men don't get under conviction any more; they get a guilt complex. Instead of confessing their guilt to God and getting rid of it, they lie down on a couch and try to tell a man who ought to know better all about themselves. It comes out after a while that they were deeply disappointed when they were two years old or some such thing. That's supposed to make them better.
The whole thing is ridiculous, because sin is still the ancient enemy of the soul. It has never changed. We've got to deal firmly with sin in our lives. Let's remember that. The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, said Paul, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17). Righteousness lies at the door of the kingdom of God. The soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).
This is not to preach sinless perfection. This is to say that every known sin is to be named, identified and repudiated, and that we must trust God for deliverance from it, so that there is no more sin anywhere in our lives. It is absolutely necessary that we deal thus, because God is a holy God and sin is on the throne of the world.
So don't call your sins by some other name. If you're jealous, call it jealousy. If you tend to pity yourself and feel that you are not appreciated, but are like a flower born to blush unseen and waste your sweetness on the desert air, call it what it is -- self-pity.
There is resentfulness. If you're resentful, admit it. I have met people who live in a state of sputtering indignation most of the time. I know of a preacher who acts like a hen thrown out of the nest. He keeps running in all directions clucking and complaining -- somebody is always doing him wrong. Well, if you have got that spirit, you must deal with it now. You must get that out of you. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. Instead of covering it up and trying to find a Greek marginal rendering somewhere to hide it under, call it by the right name, and get rid of it by the grace of God.
And then there is your temper. Don't call it indignation. Don't try to christen it by some other name. Call it chat it is. Because if you have a bad temper you will either get rid of it or it will get rid of much of your spirituality and most of your joy.
So let's deal with sin thoroughly. Let's be perfectly candid. God loves candid people.
Now the second vow is: Never own anything. I do not mean by this that you cannot have things. I mean that you ought to get delivered from this sense of possessing them. This sense of possessing is what hinders us. All babies are born with their fists clenched, and it seems to me it means: This is mine! One of the first things is mine in an angry voice. That sense of This is mine is a very injurious thing to the spirit. If you can get rid of it so that you have no feeling of possessing anything, there will come a great sense of freedom and liberty into your life.
Now don't think that you musty sell all that you have and give it to charity. No, God will let you have your car and your business, your practice and your position, whatever it may be, provided you understand that it is not yours at all, but His, and all your are doing is just working for Him. You can be restful about it then, because we never need to worry about losing anything that belongs to someone else. If it is yours, you're always looking in your hand to see if it's stll there. If it's God's you no longer need to worry about it.
Let me point out some things you'll have to turn over to God. Property is one thing. Some of the dear Lord's children are being held back because there's a ball and chain on their legs. If it's a man, it's his big car and fine home. If it's a woman it's her china and her Louis XIV furniture and all the rest. Take that vase for instance. There it stands, and if anybody knocked it off and broke it the poor owner would probably lose five years from her life!
The third vow is this: Never defend yourself. We're all born with a desire to defend ourselves. And if you insist upon defending yourself, God will let you do it. But if you turn the defense of yourself over to God He will defend you. He told Moses once, in Exodus 23:22: I will be an enemy unto thine enemies and an adversary to thine adversaries.
A long time ago the Lord and I went through the 23rd chapter of Exodus together and He gave it to me. For 30 years now it has been a source of untold blessing to my life. I don't have to fight. The Lord does the fighting for me. And He'll do the same for you. He will be an enemy to your enemy and an adversary to your adversary, and you'll never need to defend yourself.
What do we defend? Well, we defend our service, and particularly we defend our reputation. Your reputation is what people think you are, and if a story gets out about you the big temptation is to try to run it down. But you know, running down the source of a story is a hopeless task. Absolutely hopeless! It's like trying to find the bird after you've found the feather on your lawn. You can't do it. But if you'll turn yourslef wholly over tot he Lord He will defend you completely and see to it that no one will harm you. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. He says, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn (Isaish 54:17).
Henry Suso was a great Christian of other days. Once he was seeking what some Christians have told me they are seeking--to know God better. Let's put it like this: you are seeking to have a religious awakening within your spirit that will thrust you farther out into the deep things of God. Well, as Henry Suso was seeking God, people started telling evil stories about the man, and it grieved him so that he wept bitter tears and had great sorrow of heart.
Then one day he looked out the window and saw a dog playing on the lawn. The dog had a mat, and kept picking the mat up, tossing it over his shoulder, running and getting it, tossing it some more, picking it up and tossing it again. God said to Henry Suso, That mat is your reputation, and I am letting the dogs of sin tear your reputation to shreds and toss it all over the lawn for your own good. One of these days things will change.
And things did change. It was not very long before people who were tearing his reputation were confounded, and Suso rose into a place that made him a power in his day and a great blessing still to those who sing his hymns and read his works.
Next vow; Never pass anything on about anybody else that will hurt him. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). The talebearer has no place in God's favor. If you know something that would hinder or hurt the reputation of one of God's children, bury it forever. Find a little garden out back--a little spot somewhere--and when somebody comes around with an evil story, take it out and bury it, and say, Here lies in peace the story about my brother. God will take care of it. With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged (Matthew 7:2).
If you want God to be good to you, you are going to have to be good to His children. You say, That's not grace. Well, grace gets you into the kingdom of God. That is unmerited favor. But after you are seated at the Father's table He expects to teach you table manners. And He won't let you eat unless you obey the etiquette of the table. And what is that? The etiquette of the table is that you don't tell stories about the brother who is sitting at the table with you--no matter what his denomination, or nationality or background.
Our next vow is: Never accept any glory. God is jealous of His glory and He will not give His glory to another. He will not even share His glory with another. It is quite natural, I should say, for people to hope that maybe their Christian service will give them a chance to display their talents. True, they want to serve the Lord. But they also want other people to now they are serving the Lord. They want to have a reputation among the saints. That is very dangerous ground--seeking a reputation among the saints. It's bad enough to seek a reputation in the world, but it's worse to seek a reputation among the people of God. Our Lord gave up His reputation, and so must we.
Meister Eckhart once preached a sermon on Christ cleansing the temple. He said, Now there was nothing wrong with those men selling and buying there. There was nothing wrong with exchanging money there; it had to be. The sin lay in their doiing it for profit. They got a percentage on serving the Lord. And then he made the application: Anybody that serves for a commission, for what little bit of glory he can get out of it, he is a merchant and he ought to be cast out of the temple.
I go along with this. If you're serving the Lord, and yet slyly--perhaps scarcely known to you--you're hoping to get just a little five percent commission, then look out! It will chill the power of God in your spirit. You must determine that you will never take any glory, but see that God gets it all.
Now the easiest possible thing is to give a message like this. The hard thing is to make it work in one's own life. Remember that these five vows are not something you write in the bvack of your Bible and forget. They've got to be writtend in your own blood. They have to be made final, irrevocable. If it only coems off the surface it's no good. Much of our promises come off the surface. No, no. Let is come out of the depths of your heart, the deep depths of your spirit.
Theses vows cut against the old human nature. They introduce the cross into your life. And nobody ever walks back from carrying his cross--nobody, ever. When a man takes his cross he's already said goodbye. He's pulled the roll top shut on his desk and said farewell to his wife and children. He's not coming back. The man with the cross never comes back. When you make these vows, remember: They introduce the cross into your life, they strike at the heart of your self-life and there is never a place to go back to. And I say, Woe to the triflers!
In America--and meybe in other places, too--so many people are saying, Try Jesus, try God! Triflers, experimenters, tasters they are. Like a rabbit with a half dozen holes so if one is stopped up he can flee to another! No! From the cross there is no place to flee. You don't try Jesus. He's not there to be experimental with. Christ is not on trial. You are. I am. He's not! God raised Him from the dead and forever confirmed His deity and sealed Him and set Him at His own right hand as Lord and Christ. Turn everything over to Him and you'll find your life begin to lift. You'll blossom in a wonderful way.
Now, if you happen to be one of those on whom God has laid His hand for a deeper life, a more powerful life, a fuller life, then I wonder if you would be willing to pray this kind of prayer: O God, glorify Thyself at my expense. Send me the bill--anything, Lord. I set no price. I will not dicker or bargain. Glorify Thyself. I'll take the consequence.
This kind of praying is simple, but it's deep and wonderful and powerful. I believe, if you can pray a prayer like that, it will be the ramp from which you can take off into higher heights and bluer skies in the things of the Spirit.
| 2008/3/15 14:45|
Thank you for this great reminder..I wish I could some day communicate as well as he has in this article.To live it first more consistantly would have to come first..I am willing Lord!
G.M. (Destiny) Sweet
| 2008/3/15 15:43||Profile|
So let's deal with sin thoroughly. Let's be perfectly candid. God loves candid people.
I like this part. This is so true, God is candid. He sees the obvious in us. If God is candid we should be candid too. We should call things as they are and pray that God gives us eyes to see.
| 2008/3/15 15:44|
Thank you for this great reminder..I wish I could some day communicate as well as he has in this article.To live it first more consistantly would have to come first..I am willing Lord!
I really enjoy reading his articles. He is a great communicator. :-)
| 2008/3/15 15:46|
As you can see I like reading, A.W. Tozer. Here is another great article someone on this site gave me once.
I think this is a very fitting article on revival because if you want to see rivival there are areas that you have to deal with in your life and you have to work them out between you and God alone. There isn't anyone else who can go with you there. There are things God will ask of you to do and you will have to do it alone. But that is the beauty of being a christian. What it all boils down to is that it's just you and God alone even among the company of many christians.
THE SAINT MUST WALK ALONE
by A. W. Tozer
MOST OF THE WORLD'S GREAT SOULS have been lonely. Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.
In the morning of the world (or should we say, in that strange darkness that came soon after the dawn of man's creation) that pious soul, Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took him; and while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference is that Enoch walked a path quite apart from his contemporaries.
Another lonely man was Noah who, of all the antediluvians, found grace in the sight of God; and every shred of evidence points to the aloneness of his life even while surrounded by his people.
Again, Abraham had Sarah and Lot, as well as many servants and herdmen, but who can read his story and the apostolic comment upon it without sensing instantly that he was a man "whose soul was alike a star and dwelt apart"? As far as we know not one word did God ever speak to him in the company of men. Face down he communed with his God, and the innate dignity of the man forbade that he assume this posture in the presence of others. How sweet and solemn was the scene that night of the sacrifice when he saw the lamps of fire moving between the pieces of offering. There alone with a horror of great darkness upon him he heard the voice of God and knew that he was a man marked for divine favor.
Moses also was a man apart. While yet attached to the court of Pharaoh he took long walks alone, and during one of these walks while far removed from the crowds he saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting and came to the rescue of his countryman. After the resultant break with Egypt he dwelt in almost complete seclusion in the desert. There while he watched his sheep alone the wonder of the burning bush appeared to him, and later on the peak of Sinai he crouched alone to gaze in fascinated awe at the Presence, partly hidden, partly disclosed, within the cloud and fire.
The prophets of pre-Christian times differed widely from each other, but one mark they bore in common was their enforced loneliness. They loved their people and gloried in the religion of the fathers, but their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of heaviness. "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children," cried one and unwittingly spoke for all the rest.
Most revealing of all is the sight of that One of whom Moses and all the prophets did write treading His lonely way to the cross, His deep loneliness unrelieved by the presence of the multitudes.
'Tis midnight, and on Olive's brow
The star is dimmed that lately shone;
'Tis midnight; in the garden now,
The suffering Saviour prays alone.
'Tis midnight, and from all removed
The Saviour wrestles lone with fears,
E'en the disciple whom He loved
Heeds not his Master's grief and tears.
-WILLIAM B. TAPPAN
He died alone in the darkness hidden from the sight of mortal man and no one saw Him when He arose triumphant and walked out of the tomb, though many saw Him afterward and bore witness to what they saw.
There are some things too sacred for any eye but God's to look upon. The curiosity, the clamor, the well-meant but blundering effort to help can only hinder the waiting soul and make unlikely if not impossible the communication of the secret message of God to the worshiping heart.
Sometimes we react by a kind of religious reflex and repeat dutifully the proper words and phrases even though they fail to express our real feelings and lack the authenticity of personal experience. Right now is such a time. A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, `I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and, `Lo, I am with you alway.' How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"
Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved to be true by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God without the support and encouragement afforded him by society. The sense of companionship which he mistakenly attributes to the presence of Christ may and probably does arise from the presence of friendly people. Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook him, and fled."
The pain of loneliness arises from the constitution of our nature. God made us for each other. The desire for human companionship is completely natural and right. The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His Godgiven instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.
The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. A certain amount of social fellowship will of course be his as he mingles with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find. But he should not expect things to be otherwise. After all, he is a stranger and a pilgrim, and the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart. He walks with God in the garden of his own souland who but God can walk there with him? He is of another spirit from the multitudes that tread the courts of the Lord's house. He has seen that of which they have only heard, and he walks among them somewhat as Zacharias walked after his return from the altar when the people whispered, "He has seen a vision."
The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Saviour glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and overserious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.
It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude what he could not have learned in the crowd that Christ is All in All, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life's summum bonum.
Two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou, austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely to feel that he is the least of all men and is sure to blame himself for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.
The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the broken-hearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is detached from the world he is all the more able to help it. Meister Eckhart taught his followers that if they should find themselves in prayer as it were caught up to the third heavens and happen to remember that a poor widow needed food, they should break off the prayer instantly and go care for the widow. "God will not suffer you to lose anything by it," he told them. "You can take up again in prayer where you left off and the Lord will make it up to you." This is typical of the great mystics and masters of the interior life from Paul to the present day.
The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful "adjustment" to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.
| 2008/3/15 20:58|