Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Cross, not a Recliner

The Cross is not a recliner. If you are comfortable in your Christian life, something is desperately wrong. If you are not desperate for righteousness--your own first and foremost--you are comfortable with complacency and compromise. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness," said Jesus--righteousness in yourself, in others, and in your society.

Over thirty years ago, in How Should We Then Live?, Francis Schaeffer warned of the new ethic of "peace and personal affluence." Many in the West were asleep morally and spiritually, simply because they were comfortable. We need to hear this warning again.

Jeremiah was not comfortable with the apostasy of his own people. He had "fire in his bones" and had to cry out as an oracle of God against them. This won him no popularity contests.

John the Baptist was not comfortable with the religion of his day; instead he commanded all to repent and to bear fruit worthy of it. John was not comfortable with the morality of Herod and called him to repent. He was thrown in jail and lost his head over it.

Paul was not comfortable with the unbelief of his Jewish brothers and sisters. He wished that he himself could be damned for their salvation (Romans 9:1-3). Nor was he impressed with the cultural and philosophical acumen of Athens. When he saw the idolatry there, he was "greatly distressed in his spirit," and so preached a brilliant sermon to these benighted culture shapers (Acts 17:16-34). Paul was outraged that the Galatians were following another Gospel, which was no Gospel at all. He could not tolerate it (Galatians 1:6-11)! Neither was Paul comfortable with himself! He said he beat his body to make it his slave, lest he be disqualified.

The Preacher was not comfortable with the enigmas and distresses of life "under the sun." Instead he pondered them, puzzled over them, and left us with the wisdom of Ecclesiastes.

Jesus was not comfortable with the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees. It incensed him to the point of condemnation, "Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites..." he intoned over and over in Matthew 23. Jesus left the infinite pleasure of fellowship with the Father and Spirit to take on human flesh and die the worst death possible, for us. His Cross was not a recliner. This Christ calls us to take up our crosses, not our recliners.

If you are comfortable with 1.1 million legal abortions in the US each year, get uncomfortable enough to think clearly and see straight. Then vote accordingly and act accordingly and pray accordingly, calling out to God for justice.

If you are comfortable with the rise of human trafficking around the world--and even here in America--then get uncomfortable and attend The Human Trafficking Awareness Conference locally.

If you are comfortable with the status of the 250,000,000 untouchables (Dalits) in India, then get educated and involved by contacting The Dalit Freedom Network.

Of course, one could go on. You should go on; get uncomfortable; take up the Cross and follow Christ. Leave behind the fleshpots of Egypt and the shallow comforts of the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 John 2:15-17). But you can only take up this Cross if you have reckoned Christ's Cross to be your own. It cannot be done in the power of the fallen and finite self.

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. --2 Corinthians 4:7-11.

5 comments:

Sarah Geis said...

Amen! These are essential, compelling, and wise words. Thank you.

Soulcraft - East of Eden said...

I just discovered John Arndt (1555-1621).  Carl sent me a copy of "True Christianity, book 1."  It appears to be a very good corrective to our comfortable/easy lifestyles.  The theme is the absolute essential nature of true repentance.  This, in my opinion, needs be our starting point.

Tom said...

Good post, Doug. While we are loved and forgiven, we shouldn't think that gives us license to blithely accept the injustices of our day.

BJ the Tornado said...

Amen.

This is what the beloved curmudgeon does best. It is so good to hear you calling us to action against the injustice in this world. As Christians, we are God's agents of redemption until he returns. We need to be uncomfortable and fight against evil in this world.

This is so refreshing to hear from you and from your blog.
Amen, my brother.

IntelligentFaith said...

Doug,

By my estimates America will surpass 50,000,000 aborted babies since Roe V. Wade.

-That is almost as much as the populations of California and New York combined. Or about 2x the population of Texas.
-That is more than the populations of either South Africa or South Korea.
-That is about 6 million more than Stalin killed during his communist regime in Russia.
-That is about 4.5 x's as many as Hitler ever killed in Nazi Germany
-That is more than 100 x's as many as Mussolini killed in Fascist Italy.
-That is 50 x's more than the total number of American's who have died in combat throughout U.S. History.
-That is 12 million more than all the deaths in combat in all the wars in all the world during the entire 20th century.

Abortion will show to be the most embarrassing moral lapse in American history since the slave trade. And most of the arguments we use for abortion work equally well for slavery (ie: economics, convenience, "not really human," etc). Scary!

I pray that none your readers can ever see the cross as a recliner. Lord forgive us for we have sinned.

Sincerely,
John Ferrer