Richard Sibbs: The Bruised Reed
If you have read the previous four or five posts, you find my thoughts on The Shack. Quite frankly, it made me feel dirty while reading it. I know such sentiment places me in a minority in regards to the many good evangelicals who read and find solace in books of this kind, but there I stand.
As previously mentioned, I have picked up where I left off in reading The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbs. I cannot recommend it more highly. It is one of those books where most everything found there-in in quotable and Christ-centric. In reading it on my netbook using the Kindle application, I find myself highlighting so much that sometimes little text is left without a highlight.
The Bruised Reed is not a book for those looking to find five steps to overcoming temptation or discouragement. You will not find tips on living a higher Christian life of complete victory, health, wealth, and prosperity. You will not find too many exhortations to just buck up and get out there and tithe more, witness more, be more involved in your church. You will not find exhortations to gin up some super-duper, extra-special audacious faith to make ‘the sun stand still’ as is so common in the fad-driven American church.
Within this book,though, one finds the Messiah, the God-man Christ applying the sweet balm of the Gospel to the troubled souls of Christian sojourners. You will find a merciful and kind Shepherd who will not beat you up with the Law, but instead you find a kind Messiah who knows you are but made of dust and understands your weakness. Indeed, it is in your weakness that He is most glorified. I would like to share with you with some quotes, pulled, for the most part randomly, from the Bruised Reed.
Ungodly spirits, ignorant of God’s ways in bringing his children to heaven, censure broken hearted Christians as miserable persons, whereas God is doing a gracious, good work with them.
Richard Sibbes. The Bruised Reed (Kindle Locations 138-139).
Suffering brings discouragements, because of our impatience. `Alas!’, we lament, `I shall never get through such a trial.’ But if God brings us into the trial he will be with us in the trial, and at length bring us out, more refined. We shall lose nothing but dross (Zech. 13:9).
Richard Sibbes. The Bruised Reed (Kindle Locations 709-711).
Consider the names he has borrowed from the mildest creatures, such as lamb and hen, to show his tender care. Consider his very name Jesus, a Saviour, given him by God himself. Consider his office answerable to his name, which is that he should `bind up the broken hearted’ (Isa. 61:1). At his baptism the Holy Ghost rested on him in the shape of a dove, to show that he should be a dove like, gentle Mediator.
Richard Sibbes. The Bruised Reed (Kindle Locations 150-153).
And as there are differences with regard to temperament, gifts and manner of life, so there are in God’s intention to use men in the time to come; for usually he empties such of themselves, and makes them nothing, before he will use them in any great services.
Richard Sibbes. The Bruised Reed (Kindle Locations 107-108).
He shed tears for those that shed his blood, and now he makes intercession in heaven for weak Christians, standing between them and God’s anger. He is a meek king; he will admit mourners into his presence, a king of poor and afflicted persons.
Richard Sibbes. The Bruised Reed (Kindle Locations 157-159).
…this bruising makes us set a high price upon Christ. Then the gospel becomes the gospel indeed; then the fig leaves of morality will do us no good.
Richard Sibbes. The Bruised Reed (Kindle Locations 122-123).
After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks. Even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy. Such bruising may help weaker Christians not to be too much discouraged, when they see stronger ones shaken and bruised.
Richard Sibbes. The Bruised Reed (Kindle Locations 128-131).
I think what attracts me to this book is that it is a refreshing alternative to all the quasi-legalistic human-centric stuff that floods the Christian marketplace. Instead, it gives the reader the true Gospel, what God has done for you. Only when you begin to understand that God is not glorified by your performance that you begin to understand the Gospel.
As an aside, I think The Shack and The Bruised Read are, to some degree, competing approaches to how God renders mercy to suffering Christians. In The Shack, we find an a-biblical god that is more a therapist, it seems, while in The Bruised Reed, we find a Messiah who is a good Shepherd. Only in The Bruised Reed to I really find true Gospel balm, and unlike Young, Sibbs does not throw the Bible under the bus to bring the immanence, the nearness of a tender God to the reader.
Perhaps, when I run into those times when the font of my bloggeria intermittently sputters and runs dry, I shall share more quotes from Sibbs.