Posting this here with permission from the original author of this letter, both to share, and as a reminder to myself…
Just a sharing from a book I’m reading – The Ordinary Hero by Tim Chester. Basically it’s a book about how the knowledge of Christ’s death and resurrection should have what kind of implications for us as Christians.
And indeed, it has heaps of implications. As I hit chapter 5 of the book, I arrive at the part where he talks about how the practice of the cross is self-sacrificial.
I think we have been grounded well in doctrine about how true it is, that as Christians, we must love, we must self-sacrifice. And we all know that it is not to earn God’s favor, but it is indeed out of a response of God’s grace. But as I read this chapter, I am so struck and convicted at my own failings and many failings of the modern day Christian, especially as Christians in Singapore. And hence I’m inspired to share my thoughts with you, and hope it serves as an encouragement, or exhortation, or rebuke to ourselves.
Consider this verse that we know very well but practice very poorly: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Over here, our Lord is not giving us an option… ohh if you have time hor, please take up the cross and follow me. He says, and powerfully commands – 1) deny himself, 2) take up his cross daily, 3) follow Jesus. It’s a daily sacrifice.
Everyday we live, we do not live for ourselves. We were dead in our sins but made alive in Christ. We are only alive because of Christ. Does this truth not drive us to our knees and thank God for the cross? Should we not repent of our own selfish desires? Should we not stop living for ourselves but sacrifice every ounce of our breath for Him? Shall we not deny our rights? Shall we continue to be complacent and continue to take our Lord’s grace for granted, and to take our Lord’s commands as a way of living?
Consider Peter who according to tradition was crucified upside down. Consider Stephen who in Acts 7, for the sake of the gospel was stoned. Consider Paul who was ‘being poured out like a drink offering’ (Philippians 1:29-30), and often calls himself a slave to Christ… consider our Lord who for our sake, our sins, was whipped, lashed, crucified… bore the Father’s wrath, the punishment that was meant for us?
When we follow Jesus, that is the way of the cross. To death. God’s invitation card states: “Death to Self”. No I’m not suddenly radical! Today we thank God we don’t get martyred in Singapore. But, how that might have been a better way to die for God. Rather than we live each day, with the contempt for God’s grace slowly rotting away our hearts. But though we do not face martyrdom, in Singapore we face different challenges, temptations, distractions, and so we must seriously reconsider our perspectives, our decisions, our priorities.
For what is more important? Since we have decided to follow Him, so why do we still continue to choose other things above our Lord in everyday of our lives? Why can’t we deny self? Why do we still choose to linger in bed for that extra minute? Why do we choose to leave home at 5 mins before church, or bible study? Why do we choose to place other fun and less important things as priority over God and serving His church, the church that He broke His body for? Why do we not sacrifice our time and energy out of love for God and others? Why do we still fight over things which are so insignificant in light of the hope in heaven? Why do we not forfeit our right to be angry? Why can’t we forgive? Why can’t we love each other the way God has commanded us to do…?
What is it that we still cannot let go? I realize that the more you love something and cannot let go of it, the more you must deny yourself from it and submit it to God. We must deny ourselves daily. We must put Christ in front of us, and serve Him daily. This sacrifice, this is the way of the cross.