From reading some old books I’ve discovered a missing spiritual dimension. The Lord is inviting us to reclaim it.
These writers from the 19th and 20th centuries wrote from a spiritual depth that I rarely see in the church today, and I wanted to know their secret. I slowly began to figure things out while reading Watchman Nee’s The Release of the Spirit, which was first published in China in 1955.
Nee wrote: “No life manifests more beauty than the one who is broken! Stubbornness and self-love have given way to beauty in the one who is broken by God.” Perhaps the reason I find so much nourishment in these old words is that I don’t hear much today about the crucified life, suffering, brokenness or surrender. We don’t invite people to a deeper spiritual realm because few even know about such a place; often even our leaders are too busy using God to boost their egos or to amass personal wealth.
Today’s shallow, “evangelical lite” culture focuses on self, self and more self. Christian books today are mostly about self-improvement, not self- sacrifice. We teach people to claim their “best life now”—and to claim it on their terms. Our message is one of self-empowerment: God wants to make you happy. How strange that message seems when contrasted with the old hymns Christians used to sing back in the days of holiness revivals. This song written by Adelaide Pollard in 1907 seems eerily foreign today:
“Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay;
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting yielded and still.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.”
The woman who penned those words was an itinerant Bible teacher who was discouraged because she didn’t have the funds to make a missionary journey to Africa. She found great comfort when she put all her plans and desires on the altar and freshly surrendered to God’s will for her life. The song that sprung from her anguish blessed millions, but today it has lost its popularity because we simply don’t relate.
We must reclaim the forgotten message of consecration. It is not enough to know Christian doctrines or to paint a nice Christian veneer on the surface of our lives. God wants our hearts. We must embrace the cross daily. It is not enough to simply avoid the sins that our Christian culture says are the “worst”; we must also allow God’s knife to slay the pride, the self-will, the self-confidence and the self-glorification that our backslidden Christian culture encourages.