Reflections – 2012.08

Who are You? – August 2012

My wife recently called me a “Puritan fancier.”  Not that I fancy
myself much of a Puritan, but I do love what they write, appreciate
their perspective on the human condition, desire to have a grasp of
the Scriptures that is as thorough and affectionate as theirs.  So, I
suppose I don’t mind the title.

I am reading a book now by the Puritan pastor, Thomas Brooks.  It is
called Heaven on Earth and it is a book about assurance.  It is
written to his congregation and to anyone else who might read it.  It
is a book for Christians.  In his letter introducing the book, Brooks
names us all:

You are those worthies ‘of whom this world is not worthy.’  You are
the princes ‘that prevail with God.’ You are those ‘excellent ones’ in
whom is all Christ’s delight.  You are his glory.  You are his picked,
culled, prime instruments which he will make use of to carry on his
best and greatest work against his worst and greatest enemies in these
latter days.  You are ‘a seal’ upon Christ’s heart, you are ‘engraven
on the palms of his hand’; your names are written upon his breast, as
the names of the children of Israel were upon Aaron’s breastplate; you
are the ‘epistle of Christ’; you are the ‘anointed’ of Christ; you
have ‘the spirit of discerning’; you have ‘the mind of Christ.’

This list is of course incomplete – the Scriptures call us “His people
and the sheep of His pasture”; the servants of the Lord; “the
branches” of Christ, the true Vine; those whose names are written in
the Book of Life; Christ’s friends and brothers and sisters; heirs of
salvation and of an inheritance, and much more.

Now, here is the thing.  These names which we personally receive as
our own and upon which much comfort and assurance can be found, are
also the names that belong to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

How, then, should this inform our treatment of others in our
congregation and in the Christian community at large?  Maybe if we
began to see others as Christ sees them (e.g., ‘excellent ones in whom
is all His delight’), our hearts and our actions would begin to change
… reconciliation and forgiveness and grace and humility and patience
and encouragement would characterize our interactions with each other
… and obedience and thankfulness and prayer would characterize our
relationship with the One who has called us these grand names.  This
seems hard to me.  But important.  May the Lord change us and make us
more like Christ.