I have slowly been working my way through a very large book called, “John G. Lake: The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings” compiled by Roberts Liardon. Last night, as I read one of Pastor Lake’s sermons from April 26, 1914, I was stirred to pray that God would give me the grace to become the type of person being talked about in his message.
One small paragraph caught my attention while looking over my highlights, and grieved me that this may very well be the type of Christian I, and many of you, feel most comfortable becoming. He said:
“The Spirit of the Lord, as we prayed, told my soul that the peculiar sin of the present hour among the children of God is a peculiar spiritual lethargy that has been permitted to gradually steal over our souls, robbing us of the quickened consciousness and understanding of the blessed Holy Ghost and of His peculiar presence. That instead of lifting our hearts and welcoming Him, we have descended into a study of the understanding of His ways and works and methods until a dimness has come over our spirits.”
What he means is that too many of us fall into a category of Christians who spend all our time seeking head-knowledge of what the Gospel means theologically, but we seldom pull our heads out of the books and pursue experienced-in-life knowledge of the Gospel. We study, but we don’t act on what we find.
This brings to mind the famous quote by G.K. Chesterton, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” I think that is true to the point I want to make, but still not quite complete. If I were to dare to add to Chesterton’s words, it would say, “(Christianity) has been found difficult, uncomfortable, humiliating, and threatening to the preservation of our egos and status, and left untried.”
Looking again at words of Pastor Lake, I was praying that I might not be the type of Christian who is only consumed only by spiritual head-knowledge, and as I prayed, the Holy Spirit brought to mind this verse:
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)
In meditating on this verse, I began to see that the problem is that many of us hold a wrong view of this truth. From what I can tell, most evangelical Christians tend to think that this means Christ lives in us which is the hope of glory in our own salvation. The Holy Spirit, however, pressed on me that once He seals us for salvation, we can have more than hope; we can have confidence in that. This is a bigger truth! It is now Christ living in us that is the hope of glory for the people around us. Christ is in us so that He can leak out through our actions and interactions with others, making Himself known to the world
It is Christ living in us that allows us to fulfill the command to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
The problem with the head-knowledge Christian is that they study and study to understand how to have Christ inside and know all the depths of that truth, but they never live a life where Christ actually shines out of them and touches others, offering the hope of glory to the lost world.
If Christ is living in you, it is so that you can live Him out in the world. This is why Paul goes on to say in verses 28-29 that it is “Him we proclaim…” and, “For this I toil, struggling with all HIS energy that HE powerfully works within me.”
Now, don’t misunderstand me. It is a good and necessary thing to spend time in the Word and to study deep theology. We must have a biblically grounded view of the spiritual life. But it is only beneficial if it leads us to a life overflowing with the reality of Christ in us. That is the hope for the world, and that is when we will be most useful to the Kingdom of God.
So let me challenge you today: If Christ is living in you, that is where the hope for the world is found. Give Him an opportunity to leak out and shine His glorious light on others around you!