Death is only painful to him who resists it. The imagination exaggerates its terrors. The spirit argues endlessly to show the propriety of the life of self. Self-love fights against death, like a sick man in the last struggle. But we must die inwardly as well as outwardly… Our great care should be that the spirit of self dies first. For then our bodily death will be but a falling asleep.
~ Francois Fenelon
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. … But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
~ paul, The Least of The Apostles, in 2 Corinthians 4
Oh beloved, it is true.
If any of you have been involved in the business of obeying our King, we have begun to learn something of the ways of the world. For any right that we do, there is a swipe of hatred that bursts forth from the darkness.
And often, that swipe comes through people we thought we could trust.
Oh, it is not that most anyone is truly in love with evil, or has a hatred of the good. It is mostly that people who have not yet been brought under the sway of the Holy Spirit, have a very hard time believing that others would do something simply for the Love that would flow from the action.
This fool of a writer has been:
Beaten for being good.
Framed for other people’s mistakes.
Blamed for pursuing mercy.
Fired for doing right.
Assaulted in other’s stead as I stood in the gap for them.
Betrayed by the one human I should have been able to trust.
Mocked for encouraging others.
It hurts. It hurts badly. I am a person who G_d has truly molded into a man who truly loves others. I am a warrior – zero doubt. But, the truest warriors do not lust for the blood of their enemies. Warriors seek peace by whatever means is necessary.
And so, as the decades of being punished for doing right have been washing through my consciousness for the past few days, I had a pretty serious discussion with my Captain. He listens, but rarely answers as i would predict. Truly His ways are not ours.
Can we see it?
Actually, the way of the warrior in Christ, is the way of death. Our death. Oh, not necessarily the terminus of breathing and brain function. No, this death is the terminus of the engine that was driving me away from Jesus before my repentant belief in Who He Is.
And so, as we suffer for love. As we a battered in response to our sharing of good news, we will be injured. But the injury is not to discourage us. The injury is to continually assure that the ‘I’ in me maintains its proper position (that of reckoning G_d as in charge, and me as in not in charge).
But, as we go down this VERY unintuitive path, we find something we never expected. In place, intermingled with, the pain – we find that was grows in us is ever more Love for those around us. We begin to wax strong with a joy that has been true-tempered in the fires of the adversities we have faced.
So, are you feeling the punishment that the world tries to meet out on your right actions? Good. Fear not. The death you are encountering is bringing eternal life to many.
Tonight is your (and this fool of a writer’s) night. Time to let death reign in our mortal bodies – that True Life might shine through us instead.
The greatest of all crosses is self—if we die in part every day, we shall have but little to do on the last. These little daily deaths will destroy the power of the final dying.
~François Fénelon (1651-1715)