Robert and Maureen McQuillan challenge:
‘Please, sir, I want some more’ from Charles Dickens’ second novel Oliver Twist are words so famous that virtually everyone remembers them. The workhouse supervisor Mr. Bumble’s outraged response is well known too.
The musical Oliver portrays Bumble’s enraged reaction as ‘More? You want more?!!’ In other words, what you have already received is enough, more than enough!
Twenty years ago ‘More. I want more’ became the catchcry in church circles. Today as we minister around various denominations and pastoral care/mentoring, we still hear a cry for more from not just a mere few Christians. Unsettled hearts and lack of contentment in current circumstances results in Dickensian type expressions.
The bottom line appears to be this: Many Christians still don’t realise what we have in Christ – inner assurance, confidence, peace, joy, power, energy, vitality and ability… all inherent in our salvation.
There is a longing within for something more that will help them know the will of God for their life and enjoy it satisfactorily, instead of just trusting him afresh each new day for whatever the day may produce.
In fact what’s missing is the knowledge of all that a convert to Christ now has in God because of our salvation through Jesus, the depths of it all, the reality of it all.
The ‘more’ – everything – is already given
Paul wrote with confidence in Colossians 2:10, ‘Because you belong to Christ, you have everything you need’ (Emphasis ours). No asking us to request ‘more’ in this scripture! The surrounding verses speak of Jesus being the epitome of fulness. And, as the NLT indicates, because of our salvation, we too are full – ‘So you also are complete through your union with Christ.’
In simple terms, we really don’t need nor can get more because God has given us everything we need!
What’s missing is the reality of living out everything that God has made available to us. The revelation of what we have in Christ comes through growing in our Christianity, knowing God’s word and ways through scripture meditation (and doing it not just reading it – James 2:12, ‘You must do what it says’), fellowshipping with experienced Christians who have successfully and contentedly travelled the road ahead – and still are. Through church attendance and hearing good Bible-based sermons and learning to fully trust the Holy Spirit who dwells within. And contentedly believing the inspirations that come from doing so!
We recall way back in the 70s when we first church planted, asking a Bible study group to write on a blackboard, based on the reality of Colossians 2:10, a list of what we actually already have in Christ. Growing, maturing Christians only hesitated for a moment before each called something out. Soon that little blackboard was full!
That growing list included … the reality of the gospel, full salvation, contentment, boundless joy despite hardships, victory over challenges, peace, success opportunities, general good health, needed healing answered by prayer and faith, deepest comfort when losing loved ones, revelation, Bible knowledge, solutions, vision, goals, abilities, intimacy with the Holy Spirit resulting in authority and supernatural power and much more – the real more that has already been given.
Then we gave the challenge – ‘Great…but are you fully living it all out?’ Admittedly there was a negative shaking of heads as the group admitted that they were …
• Not fully realising the depths of God’s love and graciousness
• Not acknowledging that everything has already been given
• Were so often insulting God by not embracing it all
• Not accepting that, although so blessed, we are but servants
• Understanding that Jesus is Lord – therefore Master in charge of all things.
Maybe it would help discontented Christians to take a sheet of paper, think, and write down a Bible-based list of all we have in God through Jesus. And to note that that anything not yet fully operating can be prayed about and believed for.
God’s cry of ‘More’
What if we take our focus of ourselves, our longing for more and focus this catchcry on God? Yes, on God! Have we ever considered that God is pleading with many of us, ‘More? I want more of you!’
John the Baptist was a follower of God, bold, outspoken, and unafraid of critics both religious and political. He knew his ministry and engaged in it whatever the cost, obviously aware the God would take care of him in every way, in life itself and beyond.
His concern was not for himself, ‘his’ ministry, how he dressed or what he ate or, but that Jesus would be honoured and pre-eminent. Hence he declared, ‘He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less’ (John 3:30 NLT).
Many great sermons highlighting ‘More of Jesus, less of me’ are based on this verse. The Message reads: ‘This is the assigned moment for him to move into the centre, while I slip off to the sidelines.’
There is a rising today among some Christians, including young adults, in respect of a badly needed aspect of ‘More’…’May I know the Spirit more and how to operate in his gifts so that I can meaningfully help my pastor build the church and reveal the Jesus is alive and real.’
The ‘more’ of this kind reflects a fresh commitment to the lordship of Jesus and the Master’s service, to moving on (See Dr George Forbes’ Missional article, Moving Forward), echoing the prophet Isaiah’s famous cry, ‘Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me”’ (NLT).
The Message puts this Isaiah 6:8 verse this way: ‘I heard the voice of the Master: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” I spoke up, “I’ll go. Send me!”’
We all need to note this emphasis – ‘I spoke up.’ The language indicates a willingness to move out of comfort zones and onward. The question today for Christians, for churches is: ‘Are we too ever willing to declare like Isaiah…You’re the boss, the Lord. I’m willing – have more of me, send me, use me’?
No turning back
It’s great to sing new choruses today (even if some wording is dubious, scripture-wise! (See Young and Old, Dr Jim McClure’s Generational article) but many love and respect well-known so-called old hymns that carry great biblical truths.
Such as the simple but meaningful great No Turning Back, attributed to S. Sundar Singh, the great Indian missionary who had converted to Christ as a teenager and became treasured by many as a formative figure in the development of the Christian church in India.
Singh would travel extensively, even around the world, and was astounded at incredible materialism in Christian circles and self-centredness. But, committed to his master and gospel truths, he moved ever forward, not counting the cost of ridicule, stoning and being cast (like Joseph) in a pit. Aged only 40, he mysteriously disappeared in the Himalayas. He had obviously been a committed Isaiah type.
Note the emphasis on moving forward whatever the cost in these (excerpted) stanzas…
I have decided to follow Jesus; No turning back, no turning back.
Though I may wonder, I still will follow; No turning back, no turning back.
Though none go with me, still I will follow; No turning back, no turning back.
Will you decide now to follow Jesus? No turning back, no turning back.
In commissioning his early followers to spread the gospel by teaching what he had taught, and indicating that the Holy Spirit would be enough, Jesus declared that ‘miraculous signs will accompany those who believe’ (Mark 16: 17).
In accepting whatever task the master gives any Christian today, like that first one it contains the powerful back-up of the Spirit and signs and wonders. We are not left alone…filled with the Spirit; we have the ‘more’ already within us!
Ephesians 6:10 – ‘Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’ – is great encouragement to go forward, to step up, to move ahead or whatever terminology we care to use.