The word “precious” does not often appear in my vocabulary. I’m not the type of person who calls babies and puppies and sappy love scenes “precious.” Usually, the only time I use this word is when I imitate Smeagol from The Lord of the Rings saying “My Preciousssssss” as he clutches the ring in his greedy, little fingers.
When I cling to earthly things, my sin looks as disgusting, repugnant, and pathetic as Smeagol. Rather than clinging to Christ, who is most precious, I often turn to sad imitations of happiness and pleasure and find they are empty, painful, and sorrowful like Smeagol’s story.
I’ve been s-l-o-w-l-y reading John Fawcett’s book Christ Precious to Those That Believe. It’s so good and so packed with truth that I sometimes read the same paragraph two or three times before moving on, and then when I get to the end of the chapter, I feel like I need to read the whole chapter again!
The title is from I Peter 2:7, “Unto you therefore which believe He is Precious.” I have found it very beneficial to meditate on this phrase and remind myself often of the preciousness of Christ.
I’d like to share with you a few quotations from the first chapter. I’m sorry they’re so long, because only the most dedicated readers will read these, but I think the entire context and Fawcett’s style require the longer quotations.
The persons to whom Christ is precious are, with great propriety, said to be those that believe. Unbelievers see no form or comeliness in Him, nor any beauty that they should desire in Him. Hence have we so many strange notions advanced concerning His adorable Person. Many daringly deny the only Lord that bought us with His own dear life, and substitute a mere creature in His room. There are others who have such low and irreverent conceptions of Him, as if they knew not the use of His person, His work, and His sacrifice, in the business of our salvation. Whereas there is nothing in our religion which hath either truth, reality or substance, but by virtue of its relation to Christ and what He has accomplished on earth on our behalf (2).
Christ is not precious to those who do not, under a sense of their absolute need of Him, manifest that regard for Him which the sacred Scriptures every where require. The religious system, adopted by many at this day, has very little of real Christianity in it. Many laboured performances are now published to the world, in which we find the duties of morality recommended with peculiar elegance of style, and acuteness of reasoning, wherein we meet with little or nothing concerning the person, the work, or the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is like raising a superstructure, without a solid foundation. The great mystery of redemption by the blood of that Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, appears to be of little or no use with such persons, in their attempts to promote piety and obedience. There may be many things in such performances highly worthy of attention; there may be a striking display of learning and ability; but at the same time, that which constitutes the real essence of Christianity, and which is the proper spring of all true obedience, is entirely omitted (3-4).
Christ Jesus is the life of all the graces and comforts of a Christian in this world. By the knowledge and contemplation of Him, and of His death in our stead, faith lives, and is strengthened from day to day; all the springs of repentance are opened, and flow freely, when the heart is melted by views of a dying Saviour; love feels the attractive power of its glorious object, and is kindled into a holy flame; sin is mortified; the world is subdued; and the hope of future glory is supported, enlivened, and confirmed, so as to become sure and steadfast, like an anchor of the soul. But without Him, whom having not seen we love, these graces would wither and die, or, to speak more properly, they would have no existence (5).