Thursday, December 27, 2007

Trophies of the Cross

"I could not endure existence, if the world were to go on trivializing Jesus. It would be hell to me, if the blasphemies obscuring the display of his glory were to succeed in my generation."
Henry Martyn, cited by Ray Ortlund

Which I suppose is what was going through Paul's mind as he walked around Athens (Acts 17:16-17), observing people religiously bowing down to anything and everything except Jesus. His heart provoked, disturbed, distressed such that he was moved into action to go and reason and dialogue in the streets and synagogues about Jesus. As has been lyricised: worship is the fuel for missions flame. Since, mission exists because worship doesn't.

The plain truth of the matter is that I don't believe this most of the time. But I want to. More often I'm like Jonah and I'd rather die than have people come to know the grace of God. Let me not cling to idols and so forfeit grace but rather see grace, savour it, enjoy it, believe it. This bountiful feast, as John Owen puts it, those spiritual fat things of the gospel (p142, Communion with the triune God, Kapic/Taylor/Owen). Owen asks:
Has Christ his due place in your hearts? Is he your all? Does he dwell in your thoughts? Do you know him in his excellency and disirableness? Do you indeed account all things 'loss and dung' for his exceeding excellency? Or rather, do you prefer almost any thing in the world before it? (p151)
I will satisfy myself in something. His repute or some other less worthy cause.
"The souls of men do naturally seek something to rest and repose themselves upon - something to satiate and delight themselves with, with which they may hold communion; and there are two ways whereby men proceed in the pursuit of what they so aim at. Some set before them some certain end - perhaps pleasure, profit, or, in religion itself, acceptance with God; others seek after some end, but without any certainty, pleasing themselves now iwth one path, now with another, with various thoughts and ways...whatsoever condition you may be (either in greediness pursuing some certain end, be it secular or religious; or wandering away in your own imaginations, wearing yourselves in the largeness of your ways), compare a little what you aim at, or what you do, with what you have already heard of Jesus Christ: if anything you design tbe like to him, if anything you desire be equal to him, let him be rejected as one that has neither form nor comeliness in him; but if, indeed, all your ways be but vanity and vexation of spirit, in comparison of him, why do you spend your 'money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfied not?'" (p150).
I ask myself these questions. Henry Martyn (1781-1812) of Truro put this into action, under the preaching of Charles Simeon and inspired by the story of William Carey (see Andrew Fuller) and the diary of David Brainerd, taking the gospel to the nations before his early death.
Here Martyn lies. In Manhood's early bloom
The Christian Hero finds a Pagan tomb.
Religion, sorrowing o'er her favourite son,
Points to the glorious trophies that he won.
Eternal trophies! not with carnage red,
Not stained with tears by hapless captives shed,
But trophies of the Cross! for that dear name,
Through every form of danger, death, and shame,
Onward he journeyed to a happier shore,
Where danger, death, and shame assault no more.
Poem, by Thomas Macauley
The where isn't the issue. All people groups need to hear of Jesus. It's the what I'll do with the where I am. Would it be hell to me that the display of the glory of Jesus is obscurred in the Universities and Colleges of the South West of England.