What I insist upon is that a man’s faith shall be in the living, loving, ruling, helping Christ, devoted to us as much as ever he was. It is not faith that he did this, that his work wrought that—it is faith in the man who did and is doing everything for us that will save a man: without this he cannot work to heal spiritually, any more than he would heal physically, when he was present to the eyes of men. Do you ask, “What is faith in him?” I answer, the leaving of your way, your objects, your self, and the taking of his and of him; the leaving of your trust in men, in money, in opinion, in character, in atonement itself, and doing as he tells you. I can find no words strong enough to serve for the weight of this necessity—this obedience. It is the one terrible heresy of the church, that it has always been presenting something other than obedience as faith in Christ. The work of Christ is not the Working Christ, any more than the clothing of Christ is the body of Christ. If the woman who touched the hem of his garment had trusted in the garment and not in him who wore it, would she have been healed? And the reason that so many who believe about Christ rather than in him, get the comfort they do, is that, touching thus the mere hem of his garment, they cannot help believing a little in the live man inside the garment. It is not surprising that such believers should so often be miserable; they lay themselves down to sleep with nothing but the skirt of his robe in their hand—a robe too, I say, that never was his, only by them is supposed his—when they might sleep in peace with the living Lord in their hearts.
by George MacDonald
The text below is an excerpt from MacDonald's sermon, Know Christ, delivered July 24th, 1887, and published in George MacDonald in the Pulpit, edited by J. Joseph Flynn and David Edwards and published by Johannesen Printing and Publishing.
Do you understand Him, and what are you doing to understand Him?
Well, first of all, begin to obey Him. Without obeying Him you never can understand Him, and if you could it would only sink you deeper in hell if you did not obey Him. The thing is an absolute mockery, a mockery of God Himself to say: "Thou art the source of my being; I live because Thou livest; I lift my hand only with Thy power; nay, the very hand is Thine own; Father, let me draw unto Thee." "Ah, My child! you go and behave properly to your brother and sister." "Oh, no! I do not want to do that; it is very disagreeable to go against my inclination; I am in the right and he is in the wrong; I cannot do it." Wait a bit. Is that man a worshipper of God? Do not you see it is almost impossible that he should feel anything of that devotion of which I speak when he will not listen to the Word of the Father? I have seen it on the earth. I have seen a child cling to his father's or his mother's neck, loving; it could not be from pure love, not from childlike love, when the father or mother said to him, "Get down off my knee, and do so and so," and he clings the harder. Is that love? Is that the love of the Eternal God which my soul needs, and without which it starves in the desert? Is that the kind of love that I will offer to my Father or my Elder Brother who has died for me? Shall I not strive with the very essence of my being for His sake rather than refuse to do anything that He tells me, to give the right eye or the right hand? It is the mercy of God that He demands an absolute devotion to Himself. It is no selfishness, it is giving Himself unto us: "I in them, and they in Me, that we may be one." God wants us all to be just with Him as His own kind, and less than that will not satisfy God, and cannot satisfy us.