Life Changing…When Man Listens

Life Changing…When Man Listens by Cecil Rose for The Oxford Group

CHAPTER 4
Life Changing

Christ called men, not just to a life in which He met their need, but to one in which they joined Him in His task. In vivid and homely language which would stir the imagination of fishermen, He asked Simon and Andrew to join Him in an amazing fishing expedition. The catch was to be men.

It is very important that we should get this clear. The Christian life involves necessarily the fullest identification of ourselves with Christ in His supreme work of bringing men and women to God. To be a Christian is to be a friend of Christ; and to speak of being the friend of anyone when we do not care of the thing he cares for, or join him in the thing he is living for, is simply meaningless. Christ lived and died to change men, by bringing them to a definite personal trust in and obedience to God. He knew that nothing less would meet their real needs, and nothing less would be sufficient to redeem and remake the world. To stop short of that would be to fail. Unless, then, we are prepared to let Him draw us into a share in the same passion and the same programme, we are no real friends of His, since there can be no unity of mind and heart between us.

Deep in our minds to-day is the idea that the Christian life is primarily a matter of being good oneself, and being ready to help others in what we call practical ways. To deal with their deepest needs and win them for God is the parson’s job–or at any rate the job of people with special gifts. That is to mistake the real nature of Christian life and service. No doubt Christ meets us first at the level of our own need. He stoops to us in he tangles of our problems–reaches to us while we are still centered in ourselves; but He cannot give us His full answer, even for our own needs, until we let Him lift us, selfforgotten, into partnership with Him in His redemptive love of men. Release from ourselves and with it new power, can only come fully in that active companionship.

Not only own life but our service of men will be stunted if we stop short of this work of life-changing with Christ. We may meet people’s material needs, we may aid them in sickness or misfortune, we may provide healthy interests and sound instruction for them–and yet fall short of the full Christian answer to their need. Christian ‘philanthropy’ is not enough. If we love men at all, we shall be prepared to do these lesser things for them when it seems right and wise. If we love men as Christ loved them, we shall not be content until they have been so brought into touch with God that they are themselves remade, and have, in their own lives, the full answer to their own needs. The world today proved ample evidence of the inadequacy of humanitarian service which stops short of changing the man himself.

For we must remember that the love of Christ, which we are called to share, is an active love. He was not content to live a life of `silent witness’ and hope for the best. He went out seeking men. When we are filled with the same kind of love we shall do as He did. Life-changing is not a matter of special commission nor of special gifts. It is a matter of how much real love for people we have, how much we want them to find the one complete answer to their need, and how much of God we have ourselves to share with them.

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