All of us, whatever our views on life, have people we look up to for inspiration, sometimes following in their footsteps. The danger is we can too easily view things through rose tinted glasses and, in taking on board what these people said and stood for, overlook their shortcomings. Going back to the beginnings of humankind and up to the present day, where such folk still exist and are very much alive and kicking, I can name many such people, mindful of the need to not overly hero worship and to recognize their limitations.
At the age of 15, I had a profound religious experience, for it was then I became a committed Christian. Having said that, my next 2-3 years were relatively lukewarm when it came to my devotion to Christ. Then just before going up to university, something happened that changed my whole outlook. I joined Operation Moblisation for one of their summer crusades (my assignment happened to be in France), the purpose of the organisation was to mobilize young people like me in spreading the Christian gospel. While I would like to say my life from then on was radically transformed, that would be far from accurate, although it is true to say that my outlook on life and everything else saw putting God and his Christ at the centre of all I was and did, as needing to be my first priority.
It was at that time of re-awakening that I was introduced to the writing of A.W.Tozer. “Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor”. Many of his sermons were subsequently included in books, many of which are still available. Two of those I came across early on: “The Pursuit of God” and “The Knowledge of the Holy”, had a profound and lasting impact on me. Not that I know much about the man, other that he came from humble circumstances and was largely self taught, that his adult life was devoted to that as fulfilling the calling of a pastor and living simply. I am aware he has had his detractors (who hasn’t) e.g. by adding extra burdens on those who would follow Christ, beyond the simple gospel of free grace, and such concerns should be weighed.
Many of the more spiritual types, with which I spent my early years as Christian, shared some of my fascination with what Tozer had to say, I can’t say that for the present day (I suspect many may not even had heard of him, for such is life). But what Tozer did for me then was to encourage me to seek God Himself, making all other considerations secondary. While there are many distractions, including the quite laudable one of focusing on social justice and being adverse of fundamentalist bigotry as much as I once did (and still do) to theological liberalism, I needed to be reminded about how I felt when I first read the works of Tozer all those years ago. One of the sparks was a Facebook friend posting some of Tozers quotes and me following suit. Let me reiterate, Tozer like any great preacher was not flawless, but what he did was present with great passion and clarity the need to know the Holy and pursue God, and for that I will be eternally grateful, and now I need to share these thoughts with a new generation of Christian Community Activists.
The Internet is awash with Tozer quotes that are profound and memorable, as well as inspirational. Here are a few of them:
“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”
“God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.”
“I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion… I want all that God has or I don’t want any.”
“The fact of God is necessary for the fact of man. Think God away and man has no ground of existence.”
“Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightest word in any language is its word for God.”
“God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters, all mind and every mind, all spirit and all spirits, all being and every being, all creaturehood and all creatures, every plurality and all pluralities, all law and every law, all relations, all causes, all thoughts, all mysteries, all enigmas, all feeling, all desires, every unuttered secret, all thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible in heaven and in earth, motion, space, time, life, death, good, evil, heaven, and hell.”
“God wants the whole person and He will not rest till He gets us in entirety. No part of the man will do”
“Any faith that must be supported by the evidence of the senses is not real faith.”
“True faith rests upon the character of God and asks no further proof than the moral perfections of the One who cannot lie.”
“When we try to focus our thought upon One who is pure uncreated being we may see nothing at all, for He dwelleth in light that no man can approach unto. Only by faith and love are we able to glimpse Him as He passes by our shelter in the cleft of the rock.”
“We can afford to follow Him to failure. Faith dares to fail. The resurrection and the judgment will demonstrate before all worlds who won and who lost. We can wait.”
“Faith is an organ of knowledge, and love an organ of experience.”
“Refuse to be average. Let your heart soar as high as it will.”
“Rules for Self Discovery:
- What we want most;
- What we think about most;
- How we use our money;
- What we do with our leisure time;
- The company we enjoy;
- Who and what we admire;
- What we laugh at.”
“But the sons of this world have not God; they have only each other, and they walk holding to each other and looking to one another for assurance like frightened children.”
“We can be in our day what the heroes of faith were in their day – but remember at the time they didn’t know they were heroes.”
“A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man’s greatest tragedy and God’s heaviest grief.”
“Jesus calls us to his rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.”
“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts”
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”