Today I found myself coveting Tozer’s mind. I know that certainly wasn’t his intent when writing–to have people covet his mind and ability to think. I’m just being honest.
But about as soon as I engaged that thought, the Lord said: “He got that mind from me.” And then I thought about how wise and knowledgeable Christ was/is. I think we sometimes forget that Jesus was the smartest, most brilliant and influential person to ever live. Rarely does he rank on lists of great philosophers. In our minds He’s mostly a miracle worker, a compassionate person, a martyr, a prophet maybe, but hardly ever a genius, which he most certainly was–if for no other reason then He mastered the ability to yield Himself fully to the Father and did only what was asked of him and said only what was told to say.
Anyway, Tozer focused day 4 on the tyranny of things. Things, as in “stuff” or “material items” or “the consumer of 90% of our paycheck,” were given to man by God back in the days of creation. He told Adam to rule and reign and have dominion over the world. Things were good, when kept in their proper place. As Tozer puts it: “They were made for man’s use, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him.”
But, as we know, that isn’t the case. Things typically aren’t subservient to us. They consume us; they drive our desires and longings for happiness and contentment. Enough is never enough.
Tozer explains what happened this way:
Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and things were allowed to enter. Within the human heart things have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there is the moral dusk, stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.
You may be tempted to think. “Oooo… great word picture, Tozer.” But he counters that by saying:
This is not a mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble. There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets things with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns “my” and “mine” look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease… God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.
When I start quoting Tozer, I just never feel like it’s a good place to stop. He’s always making good points. But let me wrap up by hitting on a final point of his and then rabbit-trailing.
He brings the cross into the picture as a solution to the problem of “things” in our lives. He says:
…it would seem that there is within each of us an enemy which we tolerate at our peril [emphasis mine]. Jesus called it ‘life’ and ‘self,’ or as we would say, the self-life. Its chief characteristic is its possessiveness; the words gain and profit suggest this. To allow this enemy to live is, in the end, to lose everything. To repudiate it and give up all for Christ’s sake is to lose nothing… …The only effective way to destroy this foe: It is by the cross.
The book then has a bunch of Tozer quotes concerning the cross from his other writings. They are terribly challenging.
The cross would not be a cross to us if it destroyed in us only the unreal and the artificial. It is when it goes on to slay the best in us that its cruel sharpness is felt.
We must do something about the cross, and one of two things only we can do–flee it or die upon it.
No one wants to die on a cross–until he comes to the place where he is desperate for the highest will of God in serving Jesus Christ.
One of the reasons we exhibit very little spiritual power is because we are unwilling to accept and experience the fellowship of the Savior’s sufferings, which means acceptance of His cross.
The pain of the cross means that we are in the way.
Ugggh. So the cross isn’t some dainty thing to string around my neck after all…
This is the one I want to focus on:
Every advance that we make for God and for His cause must be made at our inconvenience. If it does not inconvenience us at all, there is no cross in it! If we have been able to reduce spirituality to a smooth pattern and it costs us nothing–no disturbance, no bother and no element of sacrifice in it–we are not getting anywhere with God.
I feel the (post)modern church movement makes it way too convenient for the masses. Jesus’ call isn’t easy. His call to repentance is. It’s easy to ask for forgiveness of sins and escape eternal damnation. Who wouldn’t want that?
But who wants to be discipled by Jesus? Who wants to fellowship in his sufferings? Who wants to bear a freakin’ cross? Not many. Heck, even most of the people who were eye witnesses to Jesus himself didn’t want to. Only a handful went with him to the cross. Only a hundred or so tarried in Jerusalem until the Day of Pentecost. And he had ministered to thousands! The masses followed him wherever he went–except to the cross.
Jesus was tough on his followers. And sometimes it seems American preaching isn’t tough enough. While there is certainly a time for comforting messages, there is also a time for a hard word… a time for a “Get behind me, Satan!” or a “You of little faith!”
I read 2 Corinthians 7 the other day. In verse 8, Paul says “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it.” He had ripped the Corinthians in his first letter and came back with more the second time around. And he wasn’t appologizing because he knew they needed it and it produced results.
What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you. (v. 11-12)
Look at that last sentence again. Paul’s exhortation was evidence of his care for the people God had entrusted to him. He owed them nothing less than the hard truth.
I pray our congregations are hearing the truth every week, whether it pats them on the back or slaps them up-side the head.