We Are Hollow Men

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; 

and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.”
(Psalm 115:4-8)

We are hollow people.

We have filled ourselves with food so that there is an obesity epidemic; but still we hunger for purpose and meaning in life.

We pride ourselves in the knowledge of the trivial and technological, but we have lost the basic understanding of how to relate to one another.

We supply our homes with comfort and entertainment, but the saccharine fluff leaves us desolate and rotting inside.

We are bombarded with breaking news every minute, but the truth of what is really happening eludes us.

We are surrounded on social media with “friends,” but we are isolated and feel like know one really knows us.

We chase after the desires of the flesh with no thought of lasting consequence and wonder why we are left feeling empty, broken, and lost.

This generation has more than any age that has gone before, why then are we plagued with emptiness? We read almost everyday of another life lost to suicide, bound by addiction, or even worse; of those who take up arms to inflict violence upon the unsuspecting.

And this is nothing new. T.S. Eliot penned the following in 1925:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Could it be that after generations of planting the seeds of idolatry, its hollow fruit is finally coming to harvest? While giving lip-service to the God of Scriptures, have we not chased after the idols of gold and silver, those things of earth and man which offer no hope of life or salvation?

We pursue a career, advancement and success; but feel betrayed when the cold wheel of industry eventually rolls us over.

We have made the individual the arbiter of truth so that everything is subjective, denying the authority (and even existence) of our Creator; and we wonder why the world is full of lies.

We cast of the restraints of antiquated morality for the sake of individual fulfillment; only to find ourselves alone and abused by those we’d hope would bring us pleasure.

All of this is evidence of the truth of Psalm 115. We have laid ourselves low before the false-gods of this world, and we are amazed that we have become like them! We are “shape without form, shade without color; paralyzed force, gesture without motion…” When we see a world filled with violence, deception, and indulgence, isn’t it because that’s what we’ve been worshiping all this time: power, self, and pleasure.

We are hollow, empty people, longing to be filled with that which brings us life; and that is why we need to hear the Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ. Quit starving yourselves on the empty and vain things of this world. “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread… Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in rich food” (Isa 55:2). Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:48), and He gives the water of eternal life (John 7:38). In John 10:10, Jesus said that He came that we may have life and have it abundantly. He alone is way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

Jesus Christ came to bear the wrath of God to take away our sins, and to give all who believe in Him the gift of forgiveness and pease with God in eternal life. Through His life, death, and resurrection, He has purchased salvation, the reconciliation of those who had “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man” (Rom 1:23). His is the only name given, in heaven and on earth, by which we must be saved… (Acts 4:12).

O hollow ones, if you are longing to be filled with life, with peace, with meaning – won’t you come to Christ Jesus the Lord and Savior. Beloved, if your heart breaks for the lost, if you hear the cry of the madding crowd – won’t you share Christ Jesus your Lord and Savior!

SDG

Is God a Stranger In the Land?

“O you hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be as a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night?” —Jer. 14:8

Every now and then I read an old sermon that seems to bring me under conviction. I came across this sermon by Robert Murray McCheyne entitled, “Why is God a Stranger in the Land?” In the message, he highlights the spiritual stupor that had come over much of Scotland in the 1800’s, and the found the root of that stupor in the failings of Scotlands ministers, believers, and even the unconverted.  I offer here the first two points of the sermon, addressing the Ministers and the Christians; reading in this message many things that apply even in our day.

Caution: no one comes away from this reading without at least some rebuke!


In most parts of our land, it is to be feared that God is a stranger, and like a wayfaring man who turneth aside to tarry for a night. What are the reasons why God is such a stranger in this land?

I. In ministers.—Let us begin with those who bear the vessels of the sanctuary.

(1.) It is to be feared there is much unfaithful preaching to the unconverted. Jeremiah complained of this in his day: “They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Is there no reason for the same complaint in our own day? The great part of all our congregations are out of Christ, and lying night and day under the wrath of the Lord God Almighty; and yet it is to be feared that the most of the minister’s anxiety and painstaking is not taken up about them, that his sermons are not chiefly occupied with their case… There is little of this persuading spirit among ministers now. How can we wonder that the dry bones are very, very dry—that God is a stranger in the land?

(2.) It is to be feared there is much unfaithfulness in setting forth Christ as a refuge for sinners. When a sinner is newly converted, he would fain persuade every one to come to Christ,—the way is so plain, so easy, so precious. He thinks, Oh, if I were but a minister, how I would persuade men! But oh, how little is there of this among ministers… Many do not make it the end of their ministry to testify of Jesus as the hiding-place for sinners… We do not invite sinners tenderly; we do not gently woo them to Christ; we do not authoritatively bid them to the marriage; we do not compel them to come in; we do not travail in birth till Christ be formed in them the hope of glory. Oh, who can wonder that God is such a stranger in the land?

II. In Christian people

(1.) In regard to the word of God. There seems little thirst for hearing the word of God among Christians now. As a delicate stomach makes a man eat sparingly, so most Christians seem sparing in their diet in our day. Many Christians seem to mingle pride with the hearing of the word. They come rather as judges than as children.

(2.) In regard to prayer. There is much ploughing and much sowing, but very little harrowing in of the seed by prayer. God and your conscience are witnesses how little you pray. You know you would be men of power if you were men of prayer, and yet ye will not pray. Unstable as water, you do not excel. Luther set apart his three best hours for prayer. How few Luthers we have now!

It is to be feared there is little intercession among Christians now. The high priest carried the names of the children of Israel upon his shoulders and breast when he drew near to God—a picture of what Christ now does, and all Christians should do. God and your conscience are witnesses how little you intercede for your children, your servants, your neighbours, the church of your fathers, and the wicked on every side of you,—how little you pray for ministers, for the gift of the Spirit, for the conversion of the world,—how selfish you are even in your prayers!

It is to be feared there is little union in prayer. Christians are ashamed to meet together to pray. Christ has promised, “If two of you shall agree on earth, touching something that ye shall ask, it shall be done for you of my Father.” Many Christians neglect this promise. In the Acts, we find that when the apostles and disciples were praying together, “the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” Oh, how often and how long have we despised this way of obtaining the outpouring of the Spirit! Do not some persons speak slightingly of united prayer? Here is one reason why God commands the clouds that they rain no rain on us. He waits till we seek Him together, and then He will open the windows of heaven and pour down a blessing. Oh that all Christians would lift up the cry, “Oh the hope of Israel!”

 McCheyne, Robert Murray, and Andrew A. Bonar. Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne. Edinburgh; London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1894. Print.