The life of John Knox is not just for people who like shortbread and bagpipes, kilts and oatcakes. Nor is it just for Presbyterians or people whose name begins with Mc (or who wish it did). Knox is a model to the ordinary Christian, especially the one who feels his own weakness, who, nevertheless, wants to serve Christ in a troubled world. Knox is relevant to all who know themselves to be weak.
Of the Reformation in Scotland, Knox wrote in summary, “God gave his Holy Spirit to simple men in great abundance.” Who has not felt deep within him that he was too simple a man with too little to contribute to so great a cause as the cause of Christ and his church? Or who has not wrung her hands, fearful and weak against the enemies of her soul and the church? Who has not thought that his gifts were too modest, that others could serve far better, and that he was too frail and timid for service in the great cause of the gospel of our Lord Jesus? Or who has not felt that he was being maligned by critics, assaulted by the mighty, mocked and insulted by the influential?
Herein is the great practical application of examining closely and gleaning wisdom and fortitude from the life of John Knox. His contemporary, Thomas Smeaton, said of Knox after his death, “I know not if God ever placed a more godly and great spirit in a body so little and frail.” Who among us has not felt little and frail? Take heart all who have cowered at the enemies of Christ and his gospel. Read Knox’s life and take heart, and resolve with the apostle Paul, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Corinthians 12:10).
Weakness is, in fact, an essential prerequisite to being used of Christ. The Almighty alone is in the business of raising up simple folk, empowering frail and little people, to be strong in Christ. Though few will be called to champion the cause of reformation in an entire country, nevertheless, Knox’s life teaches that the most timid saint becomes a formidable giant when strengthened by the power of God in Christ alone.