6. Christ Alone Served
Now life can only be definite and meaningful and unified if it is mastered by one Master. The explanation of the divideness, the disintegration, the distraction, the lack of cohesion and certainty and meaning, is so often that we have not got a Master. Either we are trying to be our own masters, or we are allowing ourselves to be mastered by all sorts of interests and considerations, and thus are playing into the hands of the forces that are at work to destroy our lives. Our great need is of a Master, a Despot, and to be found in utter subjection to Him; what Paul (the man who knew all about this) called 'being apprehended by Christ Jesus.' That was Paul's conception of his conversion. One day the Lord put His hands on him, said, 'Now, Paul, I have got you; what will you do about it?' and the wholehearted response, never gone back upon, was, "What shall I do, Lord?" (Acts 22:10). From that time, Paul called himself the bond-slave of Jesus Christ, and the one thing that concerned him was to be in subjection to Christ, or for Christ to be absolutely Lord. If it is not like that, life will be a confusion, a civil war inside of ourselves. Unless there is one absolute Master, life will be a misfit; we shall have missed the thing for which God made us, until He is our Master.
Take Paul as an example. Paul was making havoc of his own life as well as the life of many others while he was in rebellion against the Lord, while he was kicking against the Lord. That became perfectly clear after the Lord got the mastery. And what was more (and what is always true, of course, where there is this lack of complete subjection to the Lord) satan was the driving force behind Paul. He thought he was his own master, but he was being driven; he was helpless before the drive of this evil power. More and more that power of evil was fastening on him and driving him on in desperation to all lengths, involving great cost to himself and much suffering to others. Oh, what a lot then there is behind this term that Paul came afterwards to use of himself - 'the bond-slave of Jesus Christ.' All those wild, tempestuous forces in his own nature, with which we ourselves are so familiar, those forces that fiercely rise up against the Lord and against all that is of the Lord - all that riot of evil forces was brought into subjection to Jesus Christ, and he could speak of himself as His bond-slave.
7. No Satisfaction Short of the Full Divine Intention
Come back to Simeon. You see, Simeon was a man of great interests. He has been traced by scholars to be the son of Hillel, the great Jewish scholar who founded a school of interpretation of the law. He has also been declared to be the father of the great Gamaliel, at whose feet Paul was brought up. If these facts be true, he must have had a tremendous heritage, a wide field of interest. But, for Simeon, the coming of the hand of the Lord upon him meant that none of that - his scholarly interest, his inheritance, his world, great and full as it was - answered to the deepest thing in him; and it was that same deep thing in him still unanswered, still unsettled,that was his apprehending. We ourselves come to some extent into this very thing when we find that, however much there may be in life and in this world which interests us and occupies much of our time and attention, somehow or other it is not answering to something in us. We may get as far as we can get in that, in success and so on, and yet somehow even the best and the greatest is still a disappointment; there is something remaining. That is the apprehending hand of God, so that nothing just 'fills the bill,' as we say: there is something which has still to be met, some question still to be answered, some compelling sense of our standing in relationship to something more and higher. That is a mark of God's having a greater purpose in our lives, for He never lets us be satisfied with anything less than the full object for which He has called us. We may thing we now have what we want, but if that is less than all God's thought we may explore and exploit our field but we shall discover that we have not found all that in our heart of hearts we know to be the answer to our existence, to that sense of destiny, of Divine purpose, which casts an emptiness and dissatisfaction upon all else. It was like that, undoubtedly, with Simeon, and yet that something else had not yet come actually into view. But the day that it came, why, his whole world passed out as nothing. He said, 'Now I have it, now I have arrived!' The day when he held the child Jesus in his arms, he knew he had his answer!
Have you had an experience like that? Do you know something of what that means? - waiting, longing, praying, feeling, and then the Lord brings you into touch with that thing which is peculiarly of Himself, and you say, 'This is what I have been sensing the need of, this is it!'
That is the dealing of the Lord with a servant of His, or an instrument, be it personal or corporate, that is chosen for something more than the ordinary, that is called unto the fuller instead of the partial.
Let us then really ace this whole question of the Lord's need of an apprehended vessel to bring in the greater measure of the fullness of Christ, and ponder the strange spiritual history through which such a vessel will go - the unusual dealings of God, and the unusual interest of the powers of evil as they concentrate upon putting that vessel out of action, upon frustrating that purpose. Here it so clearly represented by this man.
You see, I feel the Lord is wanting to say something to us at this time about the end which is at hand, and of His concern to have a vessel that will serve Him in this fuller way regarding His Christ in a time of coming spiritual need; and of what, therefore, we may expect as to our own experience, our own handling, in view of our having to meet forces so unusual, the awful drive of the enemy. How necessary it is for thee to be more than an ordinary abandonment to the Lord - coming to the place where He is Master and Lord in very truth, and where we are utterly subject to Him. Let us make this a very definite matter of prayer. If we ca at all discern these signs, both as to the world and the coming phase of things, as well as in our own spiritual experience, let us see that they are of tremendous meaning, and get very much to the Lord that He shall find us a vessel to hand, completely under his Mastery.