George Everard, 1885
"He who is not with Me is against Me — and he who does not gather with Me scatters!" Matthew 12:30
I know no lesson in the Christian life more important than this. You must be one thing — or another. You must not attempt to serve two masters, or to imagine that you can stand aloof from both. You cannot do it. Listen to the words of the Son of Man. It is one of those sharp, cutting, separating words that levels to the ground all idea of escaping the battle, and yet winning the crown. It teaches us that it is a delusion for a man to imagine he can be a Christian — and yet let no one know it. Like so many other of our Lord's sayings, it takes the dividing-line and parts men hither and thither, as tares or wheat; as sheep or goats; as belonging to the army of the great King; or fighting under the banner of His enemy.
I have often used the words of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, on this matter, and will repeat them here. He was sorely tried by the lukewarmness of the Protestant princes whose cause he had espoused. To the ambassador of one he said: "This I say unto you plainly beforehand, I will hear and know nothing of neutrality. His Highness must be friend or foe. When I come to his borders he must declare himself hot or cold. The battle is between God and the devil. Will his Highness hold with God — then let him stand on my side. Will he prefer to hold with the devil — then he must fight against me. A third position of neutrality will not be granted to him."
Is not the word of Christ the precise parallel to this, "He who is not with Me is against Me — and he who does not gather with Me scatters!"
But how may you be "with Christ"?
First of all, come to Him as a scholar thirsting for knowledge would come to an eminent teacher who has a marvelous power of imparting it. He has said, "Learn of Me," and if you would be one of His, come to Him in heart and mind asking Him to inspire you with a love of His truth. Let Him be the Prophet to whom you will hearken. Let His Words of life sink deep into your heart. Let one utterance from His lips weigh more with you than ten thousand lessons from any human teacher.
Never forget to frequent His school day by day. He will not turn you away because you are a dull scholar. He will breathe upon you His Divine Spirit. He will enlighten you with true wisdom. He will instruct you and teach you both in the knowledge of God and of your duty towards Him and towards man.
But to be "with Christ" implies more than this. You must be with Him as a needy sinner with a merciful and loving Savior. You have many sins — and He has a fountain of mercy in which to wash them all away. You have an evil nature — but He has grace to make you holy and pure like Himself. You have enemies and temptations are around you — but He has power to protect and guard you. And He calls you to come to Him. He waits to receive and bless and save you. Therefore come to Him if you have never come before. Come to Him and trust His faithful promise, "Him that comes unto Me, I will never cast out." Come to Him in prayer, and leave all that troubles you in His hand. Come to Him, and abide with Him evermore.
"Just as I am, Your love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Yours, yes, Yours alone,
O Lamb of God, I come."
But go a step farther. You must be "with Christ" as a true and valiant soldier with a trusty and victorious general. This is your calling. You are pledged to fight manfully under the banner of His cross, and to continue His faithful soldier and servant to your life's end. This implies a great deal. It means very much self-discipline. It means a readiness to be a Christian, when others throw off the service of Christ.
It is to this point the words of Christ apply. "He who is not with Me, is against Me." You are fighting on one side — or the other. You are striving to stem the current of vice and ungodliness — or you are adding to its force. You are most certainly taking your part in the struggle. For the battle is raging along the whole line. There is not a country or a city, a home or a heart — where Christ and the devil are not contending for the mastery. Therefore there is no room for neutrals. Moreover, to such a One as Christ, indifference is the most terrible form of opposition. After the love and grace He manifested in His redeeming work, to be indifferent to Christ is deadly sin. It is ingratitude heightened by contempt.
Therefore, whatever you are, be at least decided about it. Let there be no halting or wavering. Let no lurking unbelief or sloth keep you back from the ranks of Christ's army. Be a warrior in word and deed for the kingdom of truth and righteousness.