Today, as I sat at my desk, my elbow bumped a book which promptly fell to the floor. And when I leaned over to grab it, and picked it up, it opened to this selection which I had previously read and underlined way back in 1992 when a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor and friend (Pastor Art Warner of Foxboro, MA) had given it to me. The book's title is "The Root of the Righteous," and it's author is A. W. Tozer.
I usually put much more thought into which portion of a book I will send you, but this one intrigued me again (as it did then)! So I pass it along and ask if you might consider his words. Though he is no longer with us, he was considered something of a "modern day prophet" a generation ago. He was born on April 21, 1897, in Newburg, PA and died on May 12, 1963, in Toronto Canada -- living most of His life with an earnest zeal for Christ and His Church.
He is the author of many books, but two of my favorites are, "The Pursuit of God" (a classic in its own right), and "The Knowledge of the Holy." I trust today's selection will challenge, and if necessary, convict you to change certain habits in prayer. Enjoy.
"Within the past few years Christ has been popularized by some so-called evangelicals as one who, if a proper amount of prayer were made, would help the pious prize fighter knock another unconscious in the ring. Christ is also said to help the big league pitcher get the proper hook on his curve. In another instance He assisted an athletically-minded person to win the high jump, and still another not only to come in first, but to set a new record in the bargain. He is said also to have helped a praying businessman to beat out a competitor in a deal, to underbid a rival and to secure a coveted contract to the discomfiture of someone else trying to get it. He is even thought to lend succor to a praying movie actress while she plays a role so lewd as to bring blood to the face of a professional prostitute.
Thus our Lord becomes a Christ of utility, a kind of Aladdin's lamp to do minor miracles in behalf of anyone who summons Him to do their bidding. Apparently no one stops to consider that if Christ were to step into a prize ring and use His divine power to help one prize fighter to paralyze another He would be putting one fighter at a cruel disadvantage and violating every common instinct of fair play. If he were to aid one businessman to the detriment of another, He would be practicing favoritism and revealing a character wholly unlike the Bible picture of the real Christ. Furthermore, we would have the grotesque situation of the Lord of glory coming to the aid of an un-reconstructed Adam -- on Adam's terms.
All this is too horrible to contemplate, and I hope that the proponents of this modern accommodating Christ do not see the implications that lie in their shoddy doctrine. [I hope... they do it in ignorance and not purposely.] But perhaps they do see, and are willing nevertheless to offer this utilitarian Christ as the Savior of mankind. If so, then they no longer believe in the deity, nor the Lordship of Christ, in any proper definition of those words. Theirs is a Christ of carnal convenience, not too far removed from the gods of paganism.
The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and restore to us the image of God. To accomplish this, He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon. A holy man would not dream of asking God to help him beat an opponent, or win over a competitor. He would not wish to succeed if to do so another man must fail. No man in whom the Spirit dwells could bring himself to ask the Lord to help him knock another man unconscious for filthy lucre or the plaudits of the vulgar spectators.
A Joshua fighting the battles of the Lord, a David rescuing Israel from the Philistines... this is up on a high level of moral and spiritual principle and in line with the purpose of God in history. But to teach that Christ will use His sacred power to further our worldly interests is to wrong our Lord and injure our own souls. We modern evangelicals need to learn the truths of the sovereignty of God and the Lordship of Christ. God will not play along with Adam. Christ will not be used by any of Adam's selfish brood. We had better learn these things fast if this generation of young Christians is to be spared the supreme tragedy of following a Christ who is merely a Christ of convenience and not the true Lord of Glory after all."
There are probably very few of us (if any) who have not at one time or another asked Jesus to bless something that would be contrary to who He is -- contrary to what He as a loving, just, holy, and good Savior would affirm or be willing to do. I personally know there have been occasions where I have fallen into this trap, and have therefore had to ask forgiveness for asking Him to give me something my sinful nature or selfish desires wanted, rather than that which would be "in His name" (or "in keeping with all that He is, and what He would want for me and others).
Praying "in Jesus name," after all, is not simply tacking the words "in Jesus name" to the end of a prayer! A selfish, carnal, worldly prayer is never prayed "in Jesus name" even if the words "in Jesus name" are tagged onto the end of it.
Tozer is right. It would do us good to remember who Jesus is, and what He would want us to be asking for before we start praying, lest we inadvertently make Christ into, "a Christ of carnal convenience, not too far removed from the gods of paganism."
In His Service, Pastor Jeff