In my last church as vicar I was graced with a Sabbatical. I didn’t want to visit other ‘famous’ churches, or write a book. Rather, I desired to pursue holiness. And to this end I thought God was asking me to read the whole Bible aloud for as many weeks it took me to finish. I had three points of entry: Genesis, Job and Matthew. It was so exciting. Many are the tales I could tell of the encounters that happened as a direct result of this. I followed the ancient Celtic saints of this country - North East of England and the West of Scotland, and all the while I read the Bible aloud.
A wonderful thing occurred. Temptation seemed much more of a distant voice; it seemed easier not to sin. Prayer became natural
and without worrying or getting frantic I was able to share my faith simply on many occasions.
I don’t share any of this to ‘big’ myself up. Not at all. Rather, my experience is a good example of what the old Scottish Divine - Thomas Chalmers- called “ the explosive power of a new affection.” (Hence my title of this blog).
If you think about it for a while you will admit that many of us have got ourselves into a rather pathetic cycle of ‘Temptation - Giving in - Repentance - Promising not to fall for that one again ...Temptation- Giving in -Repentance- Promising etc..’
What Chalmers had got hold of, and what my Sabbatical experience backed up, was that ‘a new affection’ ( in my case - for reading God’s Word written aloud ) will drive out old temptations and sin. Obvious really. But it’s an “affection” note: not just will power or mental determination. Chalmers meant not affection for anything - but taking pleasure in that which is beautiful and honourable and true and good and lovely. So this exploding power within you is something that grabs and grips you, that has your heart, that makes you feel strongly - this is what expels all other temptations away. This is what provoked holiness within you.
People get ready: Lent is here. Cultivate a deep affection for our glorious Lord. Read and devour his word. Lose your heart to him - and see him moulding and fashioning you to be ever like our wonderful