All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance – an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
(1 Peter 1.3&4)
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
Sometimes we are blessed by the presence in our lives of very wise souls, whose company and conversation are always a refreshing, and sometimes challenging experience. I am privileged to know several such people, and to see them regularly.
Last week as I shared with one lady about how my latest ‘devotional’ reading book had left me rather unimpresssed, she confessed that she had altogether stopped buying such things. They left her dissatisfied, and uninspired – rather like spiritual junk food which swiftly leaves one craving again! At the grand age of 91, she had decided that the only and best way to ensure in her growth in faith was simply to ‘keep close to God’. Her words have been ringing in my mind ever since, and as I came to write, they were before me.
She is right. Not all the most learned theological books, the most persuasive sermons, or ‘inspirational’ writings, can do us as much good as spending time looking at our Lord, considering His power and glory, His character and wisdom, His life, death and resurrection. In Jesus, we see our God revealed, the depths of His love and the lengths to which He was willing to go in order to bring us into His presence. It is true that theology, good preaching and inspiring words can help us to focus on Christ, to grasp more and more of who He is, but ultimately we must depend solely upon Jesus himself.
We rejoice in the presence of a God who is greater than our minds can begin to comprehend – and give thanks that in His mercy, He has revealed Himself to us in ways which we can understand! Is it not wonderful to us that the creator of all things should choose to “confide in those who fear him”(Ps 25.14)? Who are we that this majesty should notice us at all? The libraries of divinity colleges are stuffed with works exploring the nature of God, the person of Jesus, the work of the Holy Spirit, and all that flows from that. Twenty centuries of scholarship since the coming of Christ have not exhausted the subject, and every generation finds fresh food for thought and engages in a new way with the word of God. Truly our God is unfathomable, and our worship should spring from a place of humility as we realise this afresh.
And yet… the truth about our God is also very simple, so that we teach it to our children, in confident hope that as they grow in years, so they will grow into faith. How many of us remember singing these words from our earliest years?
“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong; they are weak but he is strong!”
A lifetime of steadfast study and growth in faith cannot exhaust the riches of our Lord Jesus Christ, and yet the whole truth can be summarised in one verse:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Our loving Father made us, and knows us, and has provided all that we need to grow in our faith. We have his word, the true and reliable guide to his character and his work in the world. And we have Christ, who lives in us, whose Spirit directs our thoughts and inspires our worship and service and stirs up the inclination of our hearts towards our saviour.
In Christ, we have all the nourishment our souls need for this life, and indeed for eternity. In him, there is beauty without blemish; power without pride; love without measure. Here we find a subject to engage and fascinate us, one which transforms us as we immerse ourselves in it. This above all, is a matter worthy of our full attention and devotion, at whatever level we can engage with and express our response to it. From the youngest child to the oldest saint in the congregation, we are able to cry out together in genuine worship of our beloved Lord. Let His be the praise and the glory, as ours will surely be the blessing!
O Let the praises of my heart be Thine, for Christ has died, that I may call Him mine,
That I may sing with those who dwell above, adoring, praising Jesus, King of Love.
(W.V. Higham 1926-)