Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thoughts on the Spiritual Life - XXXVI - H. C. G. Moule

Entrance to Ridley Hall, Cambridge - busy with some work that day!

X.

christian service.

This chapter reproduces a written Address prepared for a public occasion. It has been left on purpose nearly as it originally stood.

Christian Service, in its full idea, is a phrase practically coextensive with Christian life; and Christian life is, in the intention of the Gospel, nothing less, nothing narrower, than the whole life of the Christian; morning, noon, and night; alone, in private, in society, in public; at all times and in all places. From one point of view, and that a most important point, he not only is a servant of the Lord, but he is a servant of the Lord in such a way, under such conditions, that the whole action of his life falls under the description of service. As he always exists, as a Christian, in and by his Master, so he always exists for his Master. He has, in the reality of the matter, no dissociated and independent interest. Not only in preaching and teaching, and bearing articulate witness to Jesus Christ, does he, if his life is true to its idea and its secret, “live not unto himself”; not with aims which terminate for one moment in his own credit, for example, or his own comfort. Equally in the engagements of domestic life, of business life, of public affairs; equally (to look towards the humbler walks of duty) in the day’s work of the Christian servant, or peasant, or artizan; “whether he lives, he lives unto the Master, or whether he dies, he dies unto the Master”; whether he wakes or sleeps, whether he toils or rests, whether it be the term or the vacation of life, “whether he eats or drinks, or whatsoever he does,” he is the Master’s property for the Master’s use.

“Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as to Thee.

“A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws
makes that and th’ action fine.”

So wrote Herbert, two centuries and a half ago. And the Gospel principle is immoveably the same for us to-day. Let us not content ourselves even for a moment, in view of it, with the all too easy piety of an abstract assent and indefinite aspiration. Looking afresh, looking with adoring steadiness, at our beloved Lord, let us embrace in humblest practicality the all-inclusive conditions of His service. In His name, in His presence, let us yield to Him ourselves, as those who are already alive from the dead through Him. The probable result in our life will be no startling exterior revolution, but a happy and wonderful increase, as we go forward, of quietness, and preparedness, and liberty within. “His service,” in precise proportion to the simplicity and entirety of our acceptance of its bond and yoke, “is perfect freedom.” Illi servire est regnare; and let us remember that servire means bondservice; the service in which not only certain functions and acquirements of mine are hired out under conditions to another, but in which another has taken absolute possession of me.


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