Thursday, 28 July 2011

John Stott - a personal tribute

John Stott has had a huge influence on my Christian walk and will go down as a key 20th figure in the Christian Faith let alone that branch of the Church known as Evangelicalism.

My contact with John Stott goes back to my conversion in 1981. I had joined a small Bible Study group as we slowly went through the Letter to the Romans. At some point the penny dropped and I gave my life to Christ. But that was only the beginning. As a new born baby Christian I needed to grow and my friends who had run the Bible Study group began to feed me with various books to help me develop as a disciple of Jesus Christ. John Stott's books became my food and drink and over the years I wolfed down Basic Christianity, Understanding the Bible and later The Cross of Christ and Issues Facing Christians Today.

Reflecting now on those books, and the many that followed, what was it that drew me to this man?

First, his depth of biblical knowledge which was more than merely intellectual but something which had somehow seeped into and become one with his DNA. In other words John Stott was more than merely a scholar. I say 'merely' because knowledge on its won puffs up, and that certainly wasn't the case with him. Which brings me to the second thing, humility. John Stott was always someone who lived under the Word and as a servant to God through it. You never got the impression from his writing or his speaking that he was talking down to you, but always as someone who drew alongside and turned the pages with you so that master and pupil became two pupils wondering together over the text.

Thirdly, there was Stott's graciousness. I remember reading somewhere that he prayed through the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) every single day of his life, asking God to grow them in His life, which He did. As a result God poured out His grace on John so that He exuded God's love, grace and humility in all that he said, did and wrote.

Lastly, for now, is the fact that John Stott always remained faithful to his Christian Faith as it expressed itself through Anglicanism, and as an Anglican who gets more than a little fed up and exasperated at the Church from time to time, that was significant to me as it kept me in the denomination in which I grew up and was ordained into, at times when I could cheerfully have left in search of a more consistently orthodox denomination. John's commitment to Anglicanism was inspiring and I am sure had the same effect on other disgruntled brothers and sisters over the years.

I am saddened by the news, but only as one who, for the short term, has lost a good and faithful friend, mentor and teacher. For I know, God-willing, that I will see him again.

Rest in peace, John, and rise in glory

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