Summary: How much do you really love Jesus?
Will You Die For Christ?
Last week, we celebrated our liberty mostly by consuming large quantities of BBQ, beans and assorted other standard fare. A few of us may have reflected on our founding fathers and what the holiday was supposed to be about. Most just saw it as a day off from work and another chance to see fireworks. They may not have even thought about how fortunate they were to see fake bombs bursting in air versus the real ones like they experience in Kosovo, Israel and other less fortunate places. The biggest sacrifice that was made was staying up too late for the displays and dragging into work the next day.
We forget that our forefathers sacrificed everything to start us off in a free republic and many have sacrificed greatly to keep it. We enjoy freedom, but are we as willing to sacrifice to keep it. It has been said that no one could take away an American’s freedom by force, but given time America would give it up gladly for a nice home and a satellite dish. I fear this is true. In forty years, we have given up much that our forefathers would have died to keep. Unless we wake up we shall give up much more until it is all gone.
Not only our personal freedoms, but also our religious liberty we have taken for granted. We think we have arrived in Heaven and we are to just kick back and wait for that glory bound train. We think it is great if we spend an hour a week or a month in an air-conditioned building that we have really sacrificed and done our bit for God. We think we are to be free from spiritual battles. Our forefathers saw that they would always be in spiritual warfare and they wished the same for their descendents.
Faith of our fathers, living still in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
O how our hearts beat with joy whene’er we hear that glorious word.
Our fathers chained in prisons dark were still in heart and conscience free
How sweet would be their children’s fate, if they like them could die for Thee!
Faith of our fathers we will love both friend and foe in all our strife
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how by kindly words and virtuous life
Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!
We have not experienced the first verse, yet. We do not wish to experience the second. We do not practice the third and I doubt that we will practice the refrain!
Matt 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (KJV)
I read of a Scottish woman during the Inquisition, who was asked to come and encourage her husband to recant his faith. She replied that she would rather catch his head in her apron than to have him deny Christ. Would you cheer your spouse on to martyrdom or try to get them to recant? Many others have endured flame, sword and imprisonment for what we take for granted.
We like to use this verse to speak of giving up our rights or desires, but we shrink back from the concept of actually dying for Christ. Many brethren overseas understand this verse clearly and know that they are engaged in warfare "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph 6:12) They cannot be at home in this world like we are for they see it as it is a battleground on which to fight for righteousness.
Many of us have roots way too deep in this world. Some because their citizenship is not Heaven though their name is on the church roll. Others are deepening their roots because of carnality and ignorance. We need to look at our passports and refocus our energies and redirect our wealth to eternal investments. We are ambassadors and we must be about the work we are called to. We are soldiers that need to come back from AWOL. There are times of R&R, but they are short respites from the battle. There will be no truce until He returns. The old song says, "Yea, I must fight if I would reign, increase my courage, Lord. I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain supported by Thy Word." Are you fighting or feasting or fleeing? Are you toiling at all? Is the biggest pain you endure is getting wet walking from the parking lot or having the wind mess up your do? Our cloud of witnesses weeps at our unfaithfulness, pettiness and whining.
During the Cold War, Communists had far more zeal for their cause than the average Christian does for his faith. One young man wrote that he believed that Christianity had more to offer the world than Communism, but that Communism would ultimately win. Why? He said that Christians are lazy and self-centered and would not dirty their hands for what they believed. Whereas Communists spent every spare hour in the streets with their propaganda seeking converts. Of their income they kept only what they absolutely needed to survive. All the rest went for the cause.