M'Cheyne from 1840
8 a. O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
Last night I was reading from an old sermon given by Robert Murray M'Cheyne. It was intended as a closing sermon after celebration of communion. The parishioners were reminded of the public confession of the lordship of Jesus which had just been accomplished in the taking of the elements.
No other issue was to capture their allegiance. No idol. Not money, or popularity, or unequal pairing in marriage, or public amusements, or inappropriate friends, or illicit pursuits, or fear of man, or business success, or higher education. Many items on the list were obvious.
But then he mentioned one which came initially as a surprise - our own sanctification. Oh yes, we can be so impressed with our own change of lifestyle, our holy exercises, our seamless church attendance, our reformed tongues, our list of prohibited worldly activities, that we put our sanctified selves on the throne and see Jesus only as an accommodation party. Pride, is it not?
The Lord finds this idol as disappointing as the rest. What happens to the fear of the Lord? Our own sense of shortcoming and need? Our realization that we are still unprofitable servants? Our persistent supplicants' posture for mercy.
The change in us represents a step away from the possibility of revival. Oh I hear people in the Church everywhere calling for what they perceive to be revival. Perhaps they see it as a few more souls at the altar or a more populous prayer meeting or a few notorious sinners cleaned up moderately.
But this misses God's idea of revival by a long shot. He is looking for the breaking up of fallow ground in the Church, for heart rending judgment and correction in the Church, for quality decisions never to leave the place of the dependent child in the lap of the Lord Jesus. With such breaking comes power; power noticed by those outside church walls and feeling hints of conviction for the very first time.
This will be a supernatural work defying all our holiness formulas and church growth strategies. Bring it on Lord, and soon!