Tuesday, March 06, 2012
My recent epiphany has come as the result of reading the book, Viral Jesus, by Ross Rohde. It made me realize how weak my faith had become lately. It brought me both a vision for what could be and condemnation for what I have been lacking in my walk with Jesus.
In response, God spoke to me through one of the letters of Fenelon in the book, Let Go, (which seems to have been written specifically for me). Here’s what I read the other day:
“Do not be like a person I just met a short time ago, who, after reading the life of one of the saints, was so angry about his own life in comparison that he completely gave up the idea of living a devoted Christian life. I know this will not be true of you.” (pg. 26)
So, in one book Jesus revealed to me how far I had fallen, but in another book he encouraged me not to give up hope.
What I’ve also realized in this process is that the areas of my life where I have failed to live out my calling as a follower of Christ are all due to the same failure to die to myself. I can vividly recall moments where I have allowed my fear of man to keep me from speaking the truth. I can remember the conversations where I held back the name of Jesus in order to protect my own reputation. I can replay the scene in my mind – over and over again – when I let an opportunity to share my faith in Christ slip away because I was not ready to suffer persecution for my faith.
In each of those moments, scenes and conversations what I lacked was a willingness to die, even a little bit, so that Christ could live in me. My cross was somewhere under my desk at work, or in the backseat of my car in the parking lot.
Suddenly I am aware that death to self is more practical and tangible than I imagined. Being thought of as “the Christian nut” by my coworkers is the fruit of embracing my own cross. Having people mock me for being “Joe Christian” is what it costs to follow my Jesus with everything I have. Suffering the contempt of my unsaved friends is necessary to the process of dying to myself. It’s also what makes it possible for the Gospel to impact the world I live in – and to impact my life as well.
Unless I die to my flesh, I cannot fully experience the resurrection life of Christ within me.
The real truth. The very shameful and painful and embarrassing part of it, is that I have loved myself, my status, my reputation, more than I have loved my friends and my coworkers. That is my own sin. That is what drives the nails deeper into my heart. I am horrible and selfish. I am the monster that needs to die. Let me crucify that worthless creature of arrogance and pride. I want those nails to pierce this flesh. I need to let this dark person taste the metallic flavor of death on his tongue.
Only Jesus can drive those nails. As much as I long to dance on the grave of this selfish bastard, I love myself too much to do the deed myself. So, please, Lord Jesus, make me to lie down on this rugged cross. Bind my wrists to this cruel beam. Press the tip of that iron nail into my hand. Lift that hammer, Lord Jesus. Drive it deep. Deep enough that it won’t come loose again tomorrow.
I need your life, Lord Jesus. I need to know the power of your resurrection by sharing in your sufferings. I need this constant, daily, crucifixion if I am ever to reach the end of this road and look up into your wonderful face. Only then may I lay down this cross of death. Only then may I lay it aside and rest in your comforting arms.
Until then, I pray, let me be constantly crucified and surrendered to your perfect will.
Let your Kingdom come, Lord Jesus.