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Meditations

F. W. Turner

e-book (ePub)

Meditations by F. W. Turner

The Testimony review (from November 1973)

Meditations

IN THIS BOOK we have 25 essays contributed originally by Brother F. W. Turner to The Christadelphian. They are brief and uncomplicated in character yet they highlight important facets of life in the Truth.

On the subject of the daily reading of the Scriptures he includes some thoughts on reading in general: “It is useful sometimes to reflect upon and to compare the various activities which make up what we call our life, and ascertain the relative proportion of time and interest we devote thereto. In this question of reading, for example, how much time do we spend upon it; what form does it take; what proportion of that time is spent on light reading; on reading the newspaper (often a great time waster); how much time is devoted to the reading of the Word of God and to the Truth’s literature? Have we ever taken the trouble so to examine ourselves? It is worth doing, carefully and impartially, in order to inform ourselves of the balance we are preserving between the things of God and those related to the world”. In a later essay, on the topic “As a Man Thinketh in His Heart so is He” (based on Philippians 4:8 which concludes with the words “Think on these things”), he continues with the same thought when he writes, “As a beginning we can decide to select our reading matter a little more carefully so that the ideas thus conveyed to the mind come within the categories the Apostle enumerates. Then each day we can all find some opportunity for a few minutes’ quiet thought, and insist that our minds shall concentrate on some aspect of Divine truth, justice or purity. Failing all else we can recall some beautiful verse from Psalm, Gospel or Epistle, and whilst repeating it dwell on its meaning and application. From such small beginnings greater power will develop, and the thoughts of the heart grow increasingly nearer to the Divine ideal manifested in Christ our example.”

There are many Ecclesial activities, all valuable in their way, all demanding time and energy, and it is necessary to put first things first. Brother Turner writes, “Do we fully realise the importance of the weekly Memorial Service? There may be danger in these days of multiplicity of meetings – fraternal gatherings, mutual improvement classes, study circles, singing classes, vacational campaigns, all of which have valuable features – of losing the correct sense of proportion. Let us put first things first; and the first in importance of all our meetings is that for the Breaking of Bread.” Later he asks the question, “Have we obeyed his command to remember him in the breaking of bread and drinking of wine? How many times have we failed to do so this year? Have we forgotten? Was it impossible – really impossible – for us to be at the meeting? Then there is the possibility of breaking bread at home, as many a brother and sister in isolation must do. Were we on holiday? Then did we amongst our preparations for that holiday, find out the address of the nearest Ecclesia and time of meeting? Or if there were no Ecclesia accessible, did we ourselves make the few essential preparations to remember Christ in the way appointed?”

There is a timely warning to those preparing exhortations for the Memorial Meeting or Fraternal Gatherings under the heading, “Christ’s Secret of Success”. He writes, “To concentrate always on present difficulties and to emphasise constantly the possibility of failure, is, however, not wise; nor is it the method recommended to us in the Scriptures. The victory secured by Christ himself – the greatest victory ever achieved – would never have been gained if he had thought only of the struggle and the possibility of failure. Christ’s secret of success rested on a foundation other than this. It was for the joy set before him that he endured the cross, despising the shame, with the glorious result that he is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Paul likewise reveals to us the secret of his success: ‘This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’. We cannot afford to dispense with the means of success which Christ and Paul found so essential.”

In the 25 years or so since these articles were written, the State has accepted more and more supervision and control of the individual, and the remarks under the heading “Burden Bearers All” are even more appropriate today than when they were first written. He writes, “There is a danger in these days that individual responsibility may be overlooked, and individual action stultified through the over emphasis on organisation and co-operation. We live in days of State control; many responsibilities which formerly rested on the individual have now been taken over by the State; for example, provision for sickness, for the education of the family, for unemployment and for old age. This may be a decided advantage on a national scale, for there is associated therewith an element of compulsion which ensures at least a superficial uniformity, and secures that all shall co-operate to obtain the advantages offered. The law of Christ, however, does not permit of individual responsibility being substituted by co-operative effort. There is a distinct and important place for the latter, and the advantages of collective action are too well-known to need emphasis. But individual responsibility remains and must be discharged if we are to fulfil the law of Christ. We cannot do everything through a committee. Let us not forget that we should not restrict our well-doing to the more obvious needs of food and shelter, important though these are. There are among us those who are lonely, those who are sick, the aged, the young sister from a distant Ecclesia who has just come among us … they may not need our money; they may yearn for friendship, friendliness, sympathy, the word of cheer, the comfort of our fireside. Do our eyes search the wide horizons to seek opportunities for service? Perhaps, if we look a little more carefully nearer home, we may find a burden we may share, and gladden the heart of a pilgrim who is ready to faint by the way. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

He returns to the topic of Bible reading towards the end of the book when he emphasises the value of readings from The Bible Companion as a means of keeping us in tune with the mind of the Spirit. He writes, “All of us need a daily antidote to the spirit of the times, which as Christ and the Apostles tell us is contrary to the spirit of God. Without being accused of sanctimoniousness, we can all assert that the great majority of our contacts in daily life are either neutral or definitely antagonistic to the spirit of Christ, which it is our endeavour to cultivate as a condition of acceptance in the day of account. The whole atmosphere of everyday life, in which we live and move and have our being, is thus uncongenial and often detrimental to true spiritual development. Unless we get away from it and into a more sympathetic environment there is little chance of our spiritual life surviving.”

Finally we have a New Year Exhortation. Brother Turner writes, “The opening of another year invites us to renewed effort … a challenge to achieve better things in the future than we have accomplished in the past. The very sound of the New Year is instinct with promise; it suggests release from the domination of the past, freedom to try yet once again, and hope for better things. Let us then meet its challenge and press forward toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

H. J. SALTER

(Originally published in the November 1973 edition of The Testimony Magazine (pages 411-412), and is reproduced by kind permission.)

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