During my devotional time I have a season of prayer in which I cover my prayer lists, I read into two daily devotionals, and I read through a book for personal enrichment. I have recently been reading some of the works of J. Stuart Holden. He was born around 1870 and died in 1934. The work that I am currently reading is entitled “The Pre-Eminent Christ.”
I would prefer to have written something for my website, but I was so moved by some of what I read this morning that I feel compelled of “The Spirit” to share some of it with you.
Speaking of Christ and He having the pre-eminent place in all said:
“That this should constitute the ideal of the worship and work of any Christian congregation is obvious. He around Whom His people gather has the certain right of determining the nature and quality of that which they render to Him. But in how few Churches is His rule thus allowed! For where Christ is pre-eminent nothing will be permissible in worship which derogates from Him. Ritual, music, eloquence, while all having a certain place, will never be allowed the supreme place, if Christ gets his own. Neither will anything be permissible in work undertaken in His Name which does not add to His glory. No mere mission of amusement or education of philanthropy or culture, will absorb the energies or exhaust the resources of any Chruch where He is truly and not merely nominally the Lord. Every plan will be directed toward the creation of this same ideal in the lives of others, and will be an endeavour to extend the area of His rule in men’s hearts. And when the Church learns that this should be so, and embraces this here supreme task, she will not have long to bewail the absence of revival. It is true to-day as in pre-Pentecostal days that the Holy Ghost is not yet given because Jesus is not yet glorified.
It is chiefly; however, in regard to its personal significance that this desire of the apostle needs to be laid to heart, for after all the Church is but an aggregation of individuals. If the life of the unit be right, the life of the congregation will not long be deficient. Hence the most important consideration is as to the securing of the pre-eminence of Jesus in the lives of individual believers, and nothing is more heart-searching and wholesome than the personal query as to the relative position which He occupies in our lives. For Christians are mainly divisible into three classes—those who give Him place, those who give Him prominence, and those who give Him pre-eminence. The first-named are those who admit Him because of the gifts He brings, without which they know themselves to be eternally impoverished. Of the unworthiness and almost of the immorality of such an attitude nothing need be said. Its mere enunciation is its condemnation, for such religion (falsely so called) is but refined selfishness. Those who give Him prominence are those who engage themselves in His service—religious people whose pleasure is to a large extent found in the spheres of worship and work, but whose lives are in reality self-controlled. Christ is not the arbiter of their choices, the gladly-recognized autocrat of their entire being. He is merely a prominent figure among others in the realm of their existence, one to who certain deference is paid but who is in no sense obeyed as the Lord of all. And the divided control of such lives is itself a pre-determination of weakness and ineffectiveness. Those who give Him pre-eminence, yielding all they are and have to His rule, submitting everything to His direction, and seeking in all things only to add to his glory, are doubtless in the minority. But they are, and always have been, a minority of power and victory. For these are they whose love overflows the conventional limits of expressed affection, and counts nothing as a really adequate return for the great love partakes of the invincible character of that to which it responds.”
Holden reiterates a story that Professor Drummond used to tell of an invalid girl whose life, so unruffled in its peace and fragrant with the beauty of holiness, was a constant source of wonderment of those who knew her pain and were acquainted with her circumstances. After her death the secret was discovered. A small locket which had hung about her neck was found to contain the words, “Whom having not seen I love!” The preeminence which love will ever give to the One of its choice, however costly it proves. And the cost will always be prominent, for it is nothing less than that “He must increase but I must decrease.” Since He is worthy, and condescends to accept the pre-eminence in such trifles as are “all things” in our lives, let us not fail to search ourselves as to whether we have given Him a corner or the crown of life, as to whether He is on the threshold or on the throne.
There is a divine link between the preeminence of the Saviour and the power of the Spirit. To be void of one guarantees the absence of the other. I hope these thoughts have done as much for your heart as they have for mine.