I’m guessing, like me, you were captivated by the eloquence, clarity and gospel challenge of Michael Curry’s sermon at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Although the expressions on some of the Royal family’s faces suggested they reckoned this was a step out of the “known” and into the “unsettled”, their reaction reminded me of the impact “good news” proclamations must have had on those hearing the gospel (in their own language/vernacular) for the very first time.
The former leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband’s rhetorical tribute was quoted in a number of newspapers as, “Rev Michael Curry could almost make me a believer”. This reminded me of King Aggripa’s response to the gospel the Apostle Paul proclaimed in his address to Agrippa as recounted in Acts 26:28.
KJV “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian”.
GNB “Agrippa said to Paul, In this short time do you think you will make me a Christian?”
These words were incorporated into a popular gospel hymn titled “Almost Persuaded” in the Moody and Sankey (Redemption Songs) era. Moody and Sankey were the Hillsong of the Victorian era:-
“Almost persuaded” now to believe;
“Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
“Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
on Thee I’ll call.”
When Billy Graham came to faith in Christ in 1937, he didn’t go forward until 2 songs had been sung: “Just as I am” and “Almost Persuaded”. When the final verse of the 2nd song had been sung twice, he went forward.
Be now persuaded, oh, sinner, hear!
Be now persuaded, Jesus is near;
His voice is pleading still,
Turn now with heart and will,
Peace will your spirit fill—
Oh, turn today!
He was grateful that the man of God in the pulpit patiently waited for more responses to the invitation.
I have found there have been many instances when the Lord has presented me with serving and support opportunities but my cautious, sceptical soul conjures up sound reasons to drown out the Holy Spirit’s prompting and my response has more often than not been a rational “Go, Spirit, go Thy way. Some more convenient day, on Thee I’ll call”. My response was….. “….almost persuaded”.
As we enter into a period of prayer and reflection about opportunities that will involve potentially significant changes to how we do “church”, my sincere prayer is that we will all be fully persuaded that the path we take, is directed by the Holy Spirit and not by our faith-limiting human frailty, resistance to change, lack of courage and an imperfect view of God’s power and resources.
May God lead us and give us His wisdom.
Billy Munro, June 2018