As Elisabeth Elliot points out, not even dying a martyr’s death is classified as extraordinary obedience when you are following a Savior who died on a cross. Suddenly a martyr’s death seems like normal obedience.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. … Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. … Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
~ paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Philippians 2
Oh beloved, it is true.
Many of you have read some of my entries for years. And anyone who has read them, knows for sure that i am a chief of sinners. I have failed in so many ways that i wondered (before i knew Him) whether there was enough blood to cover my acres of wrongdoing. Regardless, the beauty of what He has done is that quantities of failure actually have no impact on His mercy. For the Infinite is never challenged by any volume or number.
Praise Him for His incredible gift of forgiveness!!!!
However, if you have read my entries, you also know that this fool of a writer has found the freedom for which he has been set free. As we walk out of the prison created by our rebellion, we walk out into an arena where we are given a free choice.
We can walk as slowly or quickly as we desire on the path He has for us. We have the freedom to take it easy. We can just go to church and learn to be good to others. And, for some with the freedom Christ has built into them, this may be a life that works for them.
But, for us formerly lost boys, we realize that there is no way we can live life just in some sort of cruise-control mode. If we do, we know that we are going to fade away, and maybe even turn around and head back in the wrong direction.
So, when we understand that we are free to leave our rebellion, we also realize the we do have a choice to make. He is calling out to us – way out ahead, and up into the hills of Light. And from where He is calling, there is action – even battle. We finally get it: He is calling us to a new form of being controlled. He is calling us to precise, military obedience.
Can we see it?
He wants us in the fight. So, if we get it (for Kingdom thinking is other-worldly), we understand that our freedom is only made complete when we submit to the utter and complete Lordship of The One who has freed us.
And, in walking up the same path He has tread. In then running up into the battles He has called us into, there is great risk. For the battles we face are not just about being a good guy and going to church. But now, we are out in the fields white unto harvest. And in those fields, there are wretched weeds, and creatures that will seek to kill us as we share the Light and Love we have been given.
It is battle after all. And soldiers die in battle.
We are about to leave China. We have been basically beat to death by the battle He has had us in. Oh yes, we obeyed His Voice and came here under His orders. But China has showed me both my weaknesses, and also the strength of my freedom to obey. And, as I obeyed, many came to know Christ…. But many rose up and struck us down in our work.
We leave barely alive. Actually, we are dead. But, on the other side of this death, we are finding freedom even greater than we knew before we arrived. This may sound a little “mystical,” but its really not. We are finding that John The Baptist was totally right: i must decrease, HE must increase.
So, are you struggling through a tough time because you have obeyed His leading? Good. More freedom awaits you! Death to our selfish desires is but another doorway to more freedom. Tonight is your night (and mine!) … Obey to the point of death.
Why should a person come to the cross? Why should a person embrace death? With Christ? Because it’s the only way that God can get glory out of a human being!