By Ray Ortlund
“I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:1-3
Last week Jani and I had the privilege of serving at The Cove in Asheville – at the Billy Graham Training Center. It was a Senior Celebration, with Cliff Barrows as our gracious host. Evie and Pelle Karlsson brought the music. Tom Bledsoe was our emcee. John Innes played the piano.
I wish you could have been there with us in the green room, as we gathered before each service. I saw no ego at all. They were relaxed friends, enjoying one another. But there was more. I saw a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For example, as they were discussing the music, now and then Cliff would spontaneously break out in song, and everyone would join in, right there in the planning session. I saw no distinction between planning the worship and worshiping. It was beautiful. It was heartfelt. It was real. I saw Cliff, with zero affectation, speak about his Lord with emotion breaking his voice. I saw the members of the team speak to and about one another with tears in their eyes. I saw biblical Christianity – a sincere and pure devotion to Christ flowing and overflowing.
How remarkable that something so obviously right and beautiful seems so rare among us. There is always some lesser thing to intrude itself into that place of sacred centrality. There is always a legitimate but non-ultimate something to make too much of itself. Then our hearts grow cold. The spiritual power is diminished. And we wonder why. But the devil isn’t wondering. His cunning has succeeded.
What I saw at The Cove last week was the only kind of Christianity my mind and heart believe in, the only Christianity that reduces me to tears. If some write this off as “pietistic” – well, I’m not a huge fan of dismissive labels. But if what I saw there at The Cove is pietism, then I hope by God’s grace always to be a pietist — unashamed of a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. And I want to influence as many others as I can to join me in, above all else, the “foolishness” of a simple, heartfelt love for Christ.
Click here to see what’s happening at The Cove.
The last Senior Celebration of 2013 will take place on September 9-11. Click here for details.