Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Everyone knows

Cost of Discipleship, this blog, was never intended to be more than a site where I could record and publish my experiences and thoughts in the following of Christ. At the beginning, it served in large part to describe the experience of witnessing publicly by reading the Holy Scriptures aloud in Portland.

After that initiation into personal evangelism I continued on, still blogging my experiences and thoughts, and promoting those of others, especially poetry, that I felt should get as wide a readership as possible. For myself, I never know if the post I am currently writing will be my last one. Several times I thought so, but then I’d write again. Cost of Discipleship really has been simply a work of saying ‘Yes’ to the Lord when He asks me to do something. It’s not a case of me ‘hanging out my shingle’ and hoping to be ‘discovered.’ I like to think that what I write about will help people, hundreds of people, unknown to me, and who will never acknowledge to me that they have been helped. At least, this is what is happening, I hope.

To this end, I have tried to stay clear of controversy, though not always have I been successful. There are things that I have written because I had to, there could be no holding back, come what may, even at the risk of causing controversy. As a matter of fact, very little controversy has occurred. I never argue, at least that’s my principle—I just deliver the message, and then stand aside. Most of my readers have been of like mind, knowing that what’s important is not whether we agree or disagree. What’s important is that whatever we think or say or do, we are following Jesus. He has a way of shutting us up, as regards our opinions and thoughts, though not with arrogance as a mere man would, but with meekness. In fact, it is remembering the meekness of our Lord that helps us to be meek.

But there can be issues sometimes that require not discussion but action, and thoughts that, whether they are agreed with or not, still provoke a response in us. The literal cost of discipleship is not something easily calculated or written about in books and blogs. It is something we simply pay by being willing to testify of Jesus Christ, who alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Our testimony may or may not be received. Most of the time we will evade those who hate us because of it, but sometimes, like our holy apostle John, we will be banished and incarcerated ‘on the isle called Patmos.’ And like him, while we are in that place of exile and affliction, we too are often caught up ‘on the Lord’s Day’ to hear words and see things that He wants to reveal to us, many of which we couldn’t reveal to others, even if we wanted to.

There are dangers in this world, both to the body and the soul, that the life of discipleship, of following Jesus, do not take away. ‘Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you,’ is a promise that has many facets. Though these evils did not touch Jesus, still He hung on the Cross and gave up His life there. Though these evils did not touch the martyrs, still they suffered the ill treatment and even death at the hands of those that hated them for Christ’s sake. Though these evils do not touch us, circumstances happen in which we find ourselves becoming passion-bearers, events beyond our control, in which we, like Christ, allow ourselves ‘to be led like sheep to the slaughter,’ opening not our mouths. It is there that we are granted ‘the peace that the world cannot give.’

When troubles happen and we nevertheless carry on, hopeful and determined to remain faithful, the world says of us, ‘He is in denial.’ They say this too, when they accuse us falsely of what we have never done. It is a kind of mantra with them, and they think it bolsters their own confidence or authority. But there are times when we can say the same of the world, ‘They are in denial.’ History is full of such times. In fact, almost all of human history is built on our civilization being ‘in denial.’ Denial of what? Not of what, but of Whom. Right from the beginning, ‘It’s not my fault. The woman tempted me, and I ate.’ Then, almost without time to recover, ‘Who am I? My brother’s keeper?’ Yet the truth has to be known before it can be denied.

We are now approaching, no, now approaching us are, the events that will close this present age. We won’t have to declare ‘For the time is close’ very much longer. When the most evil fiend has finally revealed himself in great terror ‘against Yahweh and His Anointed, and the kings on earth are rising in revolt,’ the world in unity with them says, ‘There is no threat. It is a religion of peace!’ Anything and anyone is preferable to them, even this ‘religion of peace,’ even surrender to it while it devours them, anything and anyone is preferable to acknowledging Him ‘Who Is, Was and Is to Come, the Faithful and True Witness.’ Theirs is truly living ‘in denial’ and a greater denial cannot be imagined. It’s not even necessary for me to spell out what the world is surrendering to. Everyone knows.

Glory to You, O God! Glory to You!

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”
Revelation 22:1-6 NIV

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