I would imagine that most (or at least many) Christ-followers have at least heard of John Stott, well-known for his godly writings which greatly influenced the global church. But he was perhaps most remembered as the pastors’ pastor, loved for his humble simplicity. Two things, however, stand out in particular for me.
- He was known for his simple, frugal lifestyle.
- And was, for all “who knew him a walking embodiment of the simple beauty of Jesus, whom he loved above all else.” Chris Wright
A giant of the faith
Stott was a true giant of the faith. One who really took the following words of the Apostle Paul to heart.
And that you make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, even as we instructed you; that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and may have need of nothing.1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 WEB
What a contrast to the current trend of public figures and social media influencers we find in society today. Clamouring to be seen and heard, seeking fame and fortune.
Born John Robert Walmsey Stott in London England, he invited Christ into his life at the age of 17 and went on to become the rector of All Souls Church in Langham Place England, where he served for 30 years.
The Lausanne Covenant
Named by Time Magazine in 2005 one of the 100 most influential people in the world, he was also one of the authors of the important Lausanne Covenant, which helps Christians and leaders faithfully steward God’s call to become people of influence in organizations, churches, schools, and marketplaces.
But through their published papers, I find this global gathering of evangelicals to be a call to radical discipleship. Covering important and actual topics such as social responsibility, bioethics, suffering, and violence, they also issue the call of an Evangelical Commitment to Simple Lifestyle.
The simple beauty of Christ
John Stott’s was a life that showed forth the simple beauty of Jesus. And so was his death. After retiring from public ministry in 2007, he died peacefully at home on July 27 2011 while listening to Handel’s Messiah and surrounded by close friends and family, who were reading the Bible.
His was the kind of life I want to have. One that shows the simple beauty of Christ through a simple, frugal lifestyle and love for others. A life of radical discipleship, as portrayed in his last book, The Radical Disciple.
An example to follow
Stott considered The Radical Disciple as his valedictory message to his readers. Which particularly grabbed my attention because it implies a word he wished to leave us with. A teaching for us to carry on.
In his own words, he said the purpose of that book was “to consider the following eight characteristics of Christian discipleship that are often neglected, and yet deserve to be taken seriously.”
Some neglected aspects of our calling
Nonconformity – Christlikeness – Maturity – Creation Care – Simplicity – Balance – Dependence – Death
The thought that’s come to me is: If I’m neglecting any area or characteristic, how can I grow to the point of showing forth the simple beauty of Jesus? Christ must have all of me to do this – not just the parts I’m willing to let him change.
Probably the greatest tragedy of the church throughout its long and checkered history has been its constant tendency to conform to the prevailing culture instead of developing a Christian counter-culture. (John Stott)Tweet
And because I want to change, this blog also functions as a school for me. A place where I push myself to seek, grow and learn. To become a radical disciple.
And the main thing I’ve learned is that it takes constantly renewed commitment and inspiration. Because this world system pulls in the opposite direction.
So I plan to explore some of the areas this book covers. (Not that I’ll necessarily blog about them all.) But they are areas I need to grow in.
And if you also desire a life like John Stott’s, I’m sure it will be an inspiring journey. Because drawing closer to Christ always is. And it is the one thing that will help us show his beauty wherever we go.