Word has spread that this morning, John Stott went to be with his Lord. Much of the world won’t recognize his name, but for many of us in ministry John Stott was a mentor through his writings. Books written by Stott are throughout my library and there has probably not been a better Christian thinker and writer over the last fifty years. Christianity Today has posted a thorough obituary that is worth reading.
However, his legacy is bigger than that. I never had the chance to meet the man, but those who knew him speak so eloquently of his character and humility.
Justin Taylor quotes Stott’s long-time assistant, Timothy Dudley-Smith:
To those who know and meet him, respect and affection go hand in hand. The world-figure is lost in personal friendship, disarming interest, unfeigned humility—and a dash of mischievous humour and charm. By contrast, he thinks of himself, as all Christians should but few of us achieve, as simply a beloved child of a heavenly Father; an unworthy servant of his friend and master, Jesus Christ; a sinner saved by grace to the glory and praise of God. (“Who Is John Stott?” All Souls Broadsheet[London], April/May 2001)
From Mel Lawrenz’ post on “The Impact of John Stott”:
One day New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a piece called “Who Is John Stott?” Brooks was bemoaning the fact that the media always choose the wrong people to represent evangelical Christianity, putting the microphone in front of people who are, in his opinion, “buffoons.” If reporters were smart, Brooks said, they’d look to John R. W. Stott as the voice of evangelical Christianity. It is a voice that is “friendly, courteous and natural. It is humble and self-critical, but also confident, joyful and optimistic.” Brooks went on to reflect on why this evangelical preacher is so compelling to him, a Jew. It has to do with Stott’s uncompromising “thoughtful allegiance to scripture.” Brooks concluded: “most important, he does not believe truth is plural. He does not believe in relativizing good and evil or that all faiths are independently valid, or that truth is something humans are working toward. Instead, Truth has been revealed.”
John Stott was a pastor in London for many years and gradually became a friend to dozens of countries he visited in his itinerant speaking ministry. He never tried to invent something new, but was driven by his conviction that the truth of God in Christ is at the core of the mission that believers share. He never flaunted the fact that he served as chaplain to the Queen of England, or basked in the multitudes of accolades he received. He lived as simply as possible, writing books in a simple cabin in Wales, never married, called “Uncle John” by hundreds of younger people to whom he was mentor.
What a legacy – friendly, courteous, humble, confident, and joyful with a uncompromising allegiance to Scripture. Unfortunately, Christians are often seen as anything but those things. We are seen as either arrogant, judgmental, sour or compromising.
John Stott believed that God’s Truth has been revealed and he spent this life working to make that Truth clear and known. May we follow that legacy with the same spirit and character.