William Borden (1887-1913) epitaph: “Apart from faith in Christ there is no explanation for such a life.”
Let it Go. This seems to be the theme of the week for me.
35 For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
I’m struck with how tightly I’ve been hanging on. The suburbs are designed with this idea in mind. Houses are built in safely tucked-away neighborhoods. Cars take us conveniently from place to place without having to interact with strangers. Every need is immediately met. If I’m uncomfortable in the slightest, I can immediately get rid of that discomfort by retreating or sleeping or turning up the heat or eating a snack or watching TV or reading a book or seeing a movie.
My reason for mentioning all of this is not to knock the suburbs. I believe the suburbs are a blessing. Life is good and friendships are rich and full. It’s a lifestyle that can feel heavenly at times. Just as city or rural life comes with unique temptations and struggles the suburbs have unique temptations and struggles. Each are just places.
I think the danger comes with the natural impulse to hang-on to these things. We are strangers here, and we can’t forget that. We can’t have treasure here and in heaven, seek comfort at all costs, neglect our neighbor, be self-sufficient (or self-centered) … pick your facet. It all comes down to the fact that we are travelers, just passing through. Beyond this, we have been given an assignment by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and a finite amount of time to complete it. We are actors in His play, written to bring Him glory. We are His image bearers in this dark world. When we forget that, people get hurt.
Gandhi is rumored to have said: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” This is a loaded statement and much could be said in response (that’s why we worship Christ and not Christians, there are may Christians who do live as Christ did, etc.), but I think it gets at a deeply felt need that non-Christians have to witness authenticity. If you want me to believe what you say, you need to back it up with what you do.
In Revelation 2 & 3, Jesus gives loving warnings to the first century churches that they need to remember their first love and stop being lukewarm. I’ve been thinking about that message a lot. It means something different for each of us. We need to be diligent and aware for opportunities to shake-up our dead patterns and empty religious rituals and live lives defined by the gospel.
As Dr. Litfin used to say: “Crown time will come, but now is cross time. You can’t do everything, but you can do something.”