There is a book by the Puritan, Matthew Henry, that I think every Christian should read. It’s called, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. I first read it many years ago and have returned to it many times since. This is not a book he wrote for women. This is a book he wrote for Christians. Yet as a woman who is always battling my particular bent toward sin, this is a book I that has been deeply needed in my life.
As I’ve been thinking on Jesus coming to earth, the circumstances of his birth, that, “though he was rich, for your sake he became poor” (2 Cor 8:9), that he had no where to lay his head (Luke 9:58), that he was betrayed and denied by those who should have stood by him (Matt 26:75), that he became obedient to death (Phil 2:8), that he was humiliated and scorned and spit on (Mark 15:16-20), I’ve contemplated the many times I’ve thrown my lot in with the Lord, saying, “I’m yours! Tell me what you want me to do!” But I’ve cowered when he has asked me to be meek in the face of humiliation or misunderstanding.
I want the great exchange–I want the justification, the Good News that he did what I couldn’t and became sin for me, so that I could have his righteousness. But so often I want him to be poor in spirit, while I forsake the blessedness of being poor in spirit (Matt 5:3). I want him to be meek, so that I can have justice now. I don’t always want to follow him in meekness and actually turn the other cheek and patiently, with longsuffering, wait on the justice of the Lord. I want him to have no where to lay his head, so that I can have a perfect resting place now. His name was mocked, “King of the Jews,” but I want my name to be respected (Luke 23:37). He was misunderstood, but I want to be understood.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matt 10:24).
The great exchange of the Gospel is absolutely glorious. But it isn’t the kind of glory that ends with me getting out of jail free so that I can live a life that is still my own, skipping off into the sunset of comfort and ease and zero heartache. I am a servant––a slave of Christ. I am not above my Master. That’s abundantly clear to everyone reading this, but the old, twisted remnants of sin in my heart still need to hear me say it out loud. Abigail, you are not above the Lord Jesus Christ. If it helps, you can put your name in place of mine. And that reality is for our good. It is a sign of our solidarity with the Lord. It is a sign of our sonship.
The great exchange of the Gospel means we have his righteousness and are now being equipped by it to forgive when forgiveness isn’t deserved, to love when hate seems more fitting, to be patient when we want what we want when we want it, to be meek and quiet when we want to give an answer and score a point, to be poor in spirit and absorb the cost of love when we’d rather pass the cost on to someone else.
Christ has come. Christ will come. The Holy Spirit is our real and powerful Helper now. Christ’s Spirit–the Holy Spirit–is the meekest, gentlest, kindest, purest, mightiest, most courageous, most hopeful, most happy, most groaning, and advocating Spirit in the world. And he lives in us. The Spirit that enabled Christ to say, “Not my will, but yours be done,” and enabled him to endure the cross and scorn the shame, will enable us to walk through our petty and not-so-petty trials. He will give us the grace to wait, with all patience, for the day when Christ will come again.