June 16, 2016

On the Altar

There are two ways to give your life for another person or cause. One is to actually die to save another, a rare event. In the same category are those who stand firm in their beliefs such as hundreds of Christians who are persecuted and martyred for their faith.

The other way is to spend your lifetime for another person or cause. Chambers says it is easier to die than daily live for someone or something else.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:13–15)

In these verses, Jesus is not talking about literally dying for Him, but giving up or setting aside my life in serving Him, doing what He asks as I forsake all personal plans and ambitions. I agree with Chambers; it is far more difficult to do that because it involves a daily death to self, not a one-time shot.

Jesus did it all during His life here on earth. He did not hold on to anything, even having His identity known, only to glorifying God . . .

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5–8)

Jesus asks me to live the same way, not clinging to who I am or my rights, but becoming a servant, humbling myself, considering others more important. While each life has some high points, most of this type of thinking and serving happens in ordinary life, in the dull light of daily stuff. I will never have a Mount of Transfiguration, and I will not go to a cross and die for the sins of the world.

I’ve been thinking about the ordinary. In my early life, I wanted to be somebody. Now I just want to be. Today’s trip to my doctor informed me that my medical situation numbers my days (doesn’t everyone think they will live forever?). My heart function, or lack thereof, reduces my energy levels to no marathons, no long bike rides, no volunteer jobs that require stamina. This could change. However, the prognosis varies for individuals so my best attitude is trusting the Lord and doing what He says.

This is no different from any Christian. All of us are called to lay down our lives for Him. What He does with it is His choice, not mine. Trusting Him is far easier on my body as well as mental and emotional well-being. In contrast, how could I say that I’ve laid down my life if I spend most of my days worried about how long I will live?

Jesus didn’t do that. Daily, He heeded the will of His Father and when His time came, He accepted that as the right time. Yet laying down our lives and accepting God’s decision about how long we will live is contrary to our self-protective human nature. Only by grace can this change.

Being anxious about life reminds me of my dad in the ski gondola. He was going to the top and back to the bottom whether he hung on with white knuckles or enjoyed the scenery. The difference would be that enjoying the scenery does not make you nearly as tired as being worried! And not worrying is far better for the people around me than whining about it all the time.

Besides all that, with Jesus in charge and me willing to keep out of His way with my own agenda, He is more apt to be seen and appreciated in my life. Even though I cannot measure this, He can be trusted to use all yielded souls (and bodies) to bring glory to God.
Our lives are in His hands anyway. As my husband continually says, each day we wake up, live and breathe by the grace of God. I suspect that most of us don’t want to think about how little we can control.

1 comment:

Darrell said...

As always, I have been blessed. Reminds me of a recent newscast where a young man graduated from high school at the age of 17, enlisted in the army, WWII. On the battlefield, he thew himself on a grenade to protect one of his fellow soldiers. He sacrificed his life at the age of 22!