Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Be Prepared For A Cross Road

If you do not have what you need today, if you are poor or sick or injured, cry out for help! If on the other hand, you do have what you need, and if, having everything needful, you're still tempted to complain, consider this:

God is the only one who has the right to move us from one place to another or from one life situation to another. Any complaints from Christians about "not liking" the places or the situations God has put us in... Any serious longing for a climate that is less cold or for more personally "suitable" conditions (financially or in terms of relationships or location, instead of looking at the work God is doing in us and through us where we are) is probably a rejection of the cross.

I wrote the paragraph above after reading this:
To belong to Jesus is to accept that in the exchange of our old way of death for his new way of life, we take on his life in all its unflattering and humiliating expressions. Understandably, we'd rather avoid these unsavory aspects of following him and move directly to the glorious rewards. This option is not offered to us despite our repeated insistence that it is our birthright.

We breeze right past Jesus' darker predictions of what joining up with him will entail. "I have chosen you out of the world," he tells his disciples, "That is why the world hates you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you" (John 15:19b-20b NIV). The world will hate us, which is bad enough, but it's worse than that:

"I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be in your own household!" If Jesus is to be believed, this is what we can expect from both those who know us and those who do not: they will "revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake" (Matthew 10:35-36 NLT; 5:11 NKJV).

This is not quite the Hallmark version of Christianity we thought we were signing up for. It brings us back to the archbishop's lament. "Everywhere Jesus went, he started a riot. Everywhere I go, they serve tea." The riotous, conflict-laden impact of Jesus no doubt lies behind his hard warning to his friends. At all times and in all circumstances they are to be prepared for their road to be a cross road. "And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]" (Luke 9:23 AMP).

His words lay waste to thoughts of jingoistic triumphalism and trial-free following. To be under the Word is to be under the cross. The cross is the ultimate under. And we who rebel at being under anything other than our own lordship resist this under most of all. For what is the cross but an instrument of torture, humiliation, and death?

The cross we carry is more than the burdens we bear from others' reactions to our love for Christ; the cross we carry is the signal of our own defeat and the announcement of our own death. "I die daily!" Paul cries out. We are to follow his lead.

For the dangerous kind, who are to get busy dying so we can get busy living, being under the Word is a risky undertaking. The Word asserts its own reality against the reality we would carve out for ourselves. The Word we are under demands fidelity, calls for faith, and countenances no argument. The Word accomplishes what E. F. Hutton could only dream of: the Word speaks and we listen. The Word commands and we carry out its orders. The Word is our beginning, our end, and all the landscape in between.
Quotation from Grame Sellers from his
book The Dangerous Kind, pages 66-68,
in a chapter entitled "Under the Word,"

As the author of that long quotation would say, "This is what I think. This is what I would invite you to weigh and test and consider..."

Let's talk!


No comments:

Post a Comment