Tozer on Receptivity


Tozer on Receptivity

How does one gain a sense of the presence of God?  How does one plug in to the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.  We must cultivate our receptiveness to God.  In the following quote A.W. addresses the lack of spiritual receptivity in his era.

It [receptivity] is a gift of God, indeed, but one which must be recognized and cultivated as any other gift if we are realize the purpose for which it was given.

Failure to see this is the cause of a serious breakdown in modern evangelicalism.  The idea of cultivation and exercise, so dear to the saints of old, has now no place in our total religious picture.  It is too slow, too common.  We now demand glamour and fast-flowing dramatic action.  A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals.  We have been trying apply machine-age methods to our relations with God.  We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.

The tragic results of this spirit are all about us: shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit.  These and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.

For this great sickness that is upon us no one person is responsible, and no Christian is wholly free from blame.  We have all contributed directly or indirectly, to this sad state of affairs.  We have been too blind to see, or too timid to speak out, or too self-satisfied to desire anything better than the poor, average diet with which others appear satisfied.  To put it differently, we have accepted one another’s notions, copied one another’s lives and made on another’s experience the model for our own.  And for a generation the trend has been downward.  Now e have reached a low place of sand and burn wire grass and worse of all, we have made the Word of Truth conform to our experience and accepted this low plane as the very pasture of the blessed.

It will require a determined heart and more than a little courage to wrench ourselves loose from the grip of our times and return to biblical ways.  But it can be done.  Every now and then in the past Christians have had to do it.  History has recorded several large-scale returns lead by such men as St. Francis, Martin Luther and George Fox.  Unfortunately there seems to be no Luther or Fox on the horizon at present. 

It still amazes me that this stuff is 5 decades old.  I can just imagine what Tozer would say today.

  1. #1 by Robert Williams on July 29, 2003 - 4:00 pm

    Tozer is da man. “Receptivity” and “Religious Complexity” nailed it.

    I think part of the problem is that we add complexity in an futile attempt to cultivate our receptivity.

    For instance, I’m working on establishing a daily “quiet time” and consequently I have a little form that I fill out for my own use. It just helps keeps me accountable and disciplined. But it’s so easy for something like that to turn into a program, and go from being a useful tool to being a hindrance. It can stop being a means of helping me cultivate my relationship with God and turn into an empty and shallow work that ironically might keep me away from God instead.

  2. #2 by Randall on July 29, 2003 - 8:34 pm

    I hear you Robert, with the form’s I mean. They can help but quickly loose their use.

    When I forget to tell Lauralea, (My wife) that I love her, and I get too busy to spend time with her, I don’t know, it just gets sad if I would be to the point of having to use a checklist to remind me to love her…

    The picture breaks down, she’s not God, but you know what I mean?

  3. #3 by Robert Williams on July 30, 2003 - 7:47 am

    If your relationship devolved into simply checking off boxes (“7:45 – Tell wife I love her. 7:47 – Kiss wife goodbye on way to work”) etc., yeah, that would be pathetic. But, for instance, I know many couples who find great value in a regularly scheduled “date night” together. If they didn’t schedule it, they wouldn’t do it. The date night is not the relationship but it builds the relationship. Scheduling it protects the relationship from all those things that would otherwise creep in and steal the time and energy that should go into the relationship.

    I look at those tools as a scaffolding to support the real structure, which is my relationship to God (or my wife, depending on which one we’re talking about). But they are just tools and supports, and have no value in and of themselves. When we value the programs any at all, rather than valuing ONLY the relationship, we’ve lost it.

    If I read my Bible just to read my Bible, it’s worthless. If I pray just to have done it, it’s worthless. Both Bible study and prayer are essential to my walk with God, but they are not in and of themselves my walk with God. If I pray and study my Bible to deepen my walk, they are infinitely valuable as tools to help me do that.

    I blogged a while back about my level of busyness. I’m much busier with “church stuff” than I want to be, but I’m using those “programs” (daily quiet time, discipleship, accountability, three weekly Bible studies, regular scripture memory, extensive prayer list) to help me establish the habits that I know will strengthen my walk with God. So far it’s been working incredibly well, and when I get to an appropriate place, I intend to drop some of them because the goal will have been accomplished. Does that make sense?

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