This past weekend, in my message “I Am More Than My Image,” I spoke to the ways in which we are tempted to live according to false images of ourselves instead of living into the image of God and the restoration of that in Jesus Christ.
Over the next weeks, I am interacting with some of the writings of Andrew Murray. Murray was a South African pastor and missionary during the 19th and early 20th centuries. I am spending time first with his short book Humility.
In chapter 3, Murray looks in a more focused way at the humility evident in Jesus’ life. He turns it around like a gem in his hand to identify and reflect on its different facets. He then compares Jesus’ humility to our approach to God. The following series of quotes caught my attention:
This life of entire self-abegnation, of absolute submission and dependence upon the Father’s will, Christ found to be one of perfect peace and joy.
This is the true self-denial to which our Saviour calls us, the acknowledgment that self has nothing good in it, except as an empty vessel which God must fill, and that its claim to be or do anything may not for a moment be allowed.
Here we have the root and nature of true humility.
The secret, of which all nature and every creature, and, above all, every child of God, is to be the witness – that it is nothing but a vessel, a channel, through which the living God can manifest the riches of His wisdom, power, and goodness. The root of all virtue and grace, of all faith and acceptable worship, is that we know that we have nothing but what we receive, and know in deepest humility to wait upon God for it.
Murray’s words are strong in relation to the self; almost too strong for our contemporary ears. Yet, the basic idea that we must begin by having nothing – that we are empty vessels that must be filled – is perhaps the most basic idea of the life with God. We come with empty hands and must be filled by God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. That very approach must be saturated with deep humility. How else do we walk with God but to begin here?
How do Murray’s strong words on the self’s entire lack of anything strike you?
In what ways do you struggle with coming to God empty?
How have you seen God fill you in the place of emptiness?
I came across this quoted Pascal in his work Pensées as I prepared for my message this past weekend. It is one that I have shared in previous messages, but it is so relevant to our searching for identity:
“There was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.
Why is it so important for us to be authentically known and to authentically know others? Why do relationships feel a tension expressed often in exasperation with phrases like, “You don’t even know who I am!” or “I don’t even know who you are anymore!” It is because being known and knowing others is one of the unique aspects of what it means to be human. In fact, that personal knowledge we have of others and we allow others to have of us has a lot to do with our identity.
In our current series at Eastbrook Church, “Who Am I?“, we are exploring biblical answers to questions about our identity as human beings. This past weekend I explored the ways in which knowing is so important to us grasping a sense of personal identity. Specifically, I addressed the importance of being known by God as a fundamental element of our ability to answer the question, “who am I?”