Are You Committed?

“Jesus never concealed the fact that his religion included a demand as well as an offer. Indeed, the demand was as total as the offer was free. If he offered men his salvation, he also demanded their submission. He gave no encouragement whatever to thoughtless applicants for discipleship. He brought no pressure to bear on any inquirer. He sent irresponsible enthusiasts away empty. Luke tells of three men who either volunteered, or were invited, to follow Jesus; but no one passed the Lord’s test. The rich young ruler, too, moral, earnest and attractive, who wanted eternal life on his own terms, went away sorrowful, with his riches intact but with neither life nor Christ as his possession…The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half built towers—the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so called “nominal Christianity.” In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved, enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism…The message of Jesus was very different. He never lowered his standards or modified his conditions to make his call more readily acceptable. He asked his first disciples, and he has asked every disciple since, to give him their thoughtful and total commitment. Nothing less than this will do”

John Stott

For more posts about John Stott see:

John Stott on the Christian Community

John Stott on the Holy Spirit

Stott on the Christian Life by Tim Chester –Book Review

Another Saint Song

“Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” Philippians 3:17

The text of this hymn was written by Reginald Heber (1783-1826). It was composed while he was Anglican archbishop of Calcutta, India, from 1823 to 1826 for St. Stephen’s Day, a religious holiday observed by the Anglican Church, and published posthumously in an 1827 collection of Heber’s poems entitled Hymns written and adapted to the Weekly Church Service of the Year. The tune (All Saints New) was composed for this text by Henry Stephen Cutler, who was born Oct. 13, 1825 in Boston, MA. After studying organ with A. U. Hayter in Boston, he went to Europe in 1844 to continue his studies in Frankfurt am Main.  While there, he visited many English cathedrals and became familiar with their style of music. Returning to Boston in 1846, he became music director at Grace Episcopal Church.

It speaks of the army of saints, past and present who follow Jesus.  I find it a powerful reminder that we are not alone in the Christian walk, we join our brothers and sisters, past and present, as well as Jesus Christ our head.

Practicing Brotherly Love

The Bible not only tells us to continue in brotherly love, it gives us instructions on how to do that.  I’ve heard them called the “one anothers”:

  • Be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50)
  • Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21)
  • Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you (Romans 5:17)
  • Instruct one another (Romans 15:14)
  • Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 4:9)
  • Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
  • Be patient with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Be kind and compassionate with one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Pray for one another (James 5:16)
  • Confess your sins to one another (James 5:16)

Then there are some “do nots.”

  • Don’t pass judgement on one another (Romans 14:13)
  • Do not lie to one another (Colossians 3:9)
  • Do not slander one another (James 4:11)
  • Do not grumble against one another (James 5:9)

How do you do with this list?  If you’re like me, you fall down quite a bit.  I have to admit patience and not grumbling are areas I really need to work on;  serving and submitting deserve extra attention as well.  What about confessing sins to one another — I would really rather not go there!

It boils down to this:  brotherly love requires humility and sacrifice.  It involves imitating the one who loved us like a brother — Jesus.  He did all these things and did them perfectly.  He’s the one who teaches us to love.

Following the Lamb of God

“…John was standing with two of his disciples and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’  The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.”  John 1:35-37

The verses above were part of our gospel reading and sermon in church yesterday.  John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the lamb of God, and two of John’s disciples immediately leave and follow Him.  Our pastor made the point that the pair had no idea of what following Jesus would mean, or what that path would lead them to: they knew who he was, and so they followed.

I wish I could say I have that kind of trust and obedience. Too often, I am guilty of this kind of thinking:  “Of course, I want to follow you, Jesus, but where are we going?  What is the point of this activity you are calling me to do (or to give up).”  Remember the old ‘I Love Lucy’ shows, and how Lucy would often say, ‘splain it to me, Ricky.’  I want God to ‘splain it to me” before I put my whole heart and energy into it.

Of course, this is wrong.  I should be willing to obey God because of who He is, one step at a time.  If I trust Him, I trust Him to lead me to the end of journey that He has planned for me.  I’m reminded of the hymn, ‘He Leadeth Me.”

Lord, I would clasp Thy Hand in mine, nor ever murmur nor repine

Content whatever lot I see, Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me, By His own hand He leadeth me;

His faithful follower I would be, For by His Hand He leadeth me.