Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.

The Bible League diary, from which I take my daily texts, has chosen an appropriate reading for today. We all have only one life, and to sacrifice it for another is to lose everything. Even posthumous adulation will give us no personal advantage. That’s not to say we shouldn’t remember them and the sacrifice they made for us. It is beyond measure.

What’s more to the point: what we are doing with the freedom we have gained? When life is prosperous and easy, it’s easy to take it for granted and fritter it away. Those who have had a brush with death appreciate the fragility of life and of making every moment count. Certainly, as we grow old and time left decreases, we may regret time wasted needlessly.

I cannot help but ruminate on the sacrifice most westerners seem unwilling to make in order to maintain the life we have inherited. Significant examples—and not the last I’m sure—Greek riots at austerity measures, French demonstrations against raising retirement to 62, and yesterday’s obnoxious student violence in England at raising tuition rates.

These entitlement demands fly in the face of, not only economic reality, but also the service our fallen gave for our current life standards. Without it, make no mistake, we would be subject to Nazi domination, Communist servitude or, even yet, Islamist cruelty. And without some economic sacrifice on our part, the west could easily slip back into the “dirty thirties.”

It comes down to us personally. What sacrifices are we willing to make to maintain even a remnant of our current prosperity? The life we hand to our children and grandchildren may well hinge on what we are willing to sacrifice for their security. That may be our lives for their freedoms, but more likely a reduced lifestyle for their financial well-being.

The pattern is clearly set by “the Son of Man [who] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Feeling Forsaken?

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"-which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46.

It’s only too easy to feel forsaken. For the last two days I’ve had grumbling pains in my lower abdomen. Not sure what the problems was, even the hospital doctor had no firm diagnosis. I’m glad the problem seems to be easing itself and I am up to some work again.

But it was a reminder not to come to conclusions or make decisions when I’m not feeling well. The whole world looks blacker, personal goals seem remote, and there’s no doubt God seems further away. I remember feeling like that when Ann and I were pastoring a church that had dwindled to half a dozen people and had built a reputation to match.

After three or four years little seemed to be happening, and I cried to God to get me out of it. He didn’t, and it was eight years before the church built up sufficient numbers to be re-constituted with board and members.

I realized afterwards, that for a while at least, it was not necessarily my job to progress, but to hold the ground. My sense of being “godforsaken” was nothing to that experienced by Jesus on the cross. But in both instances, the sense of loneliness was part of the process in accomplishing God’s purposes.

And in that, we shared in the loneliness God felt when His creation forsook Him.