Sometimes I wish we, as human beings, had the capacity to hear our words through the ears of those who are in the midst of terrible suffering. No matter how well intended, how true, how comforting they may be to some, there are those who will be hurt even more by what we say. Are the words we use directed toward those who are suffering, or toward ourselves? I know and sympathize with those who want so badly to say something, anything, that might bring some solace if even for a moment, but how many times have I seen in the last few days well-meaning comments and references to a loving God in connection with people who just aren’t able to see this truth in the mist of such heart-rending sorrow. There is a time for truth, for acceptance, for talk about solutions, and whys and wherefores, but I can’t help thinking that maybe some of our attempts to put words to our thoughts and feelings, and our desires to help might be better echoed in our prayer closets rather than in public. Sometimes in our rush to help, to comfort, to make better, the intended benefactors of our desire are often the ones trampled in the process.
Do you have…
A CALL TO FAITH AND OBEDIENCE
If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be. – Joh_12:26
From the beginning Christ’s disciples did not look upon Him as a Rabbi’s disciples did, as being simply a teacher, but recognised Him as the Messias, the Son of God, the King of Israel. So that they were called upon by His commands to accept His teaching in a very special way, not merely as Rittel or Gamaliel asked their disciples to accept theirs. Do you do that? Do you take Him as your illumination about all matters of theoretical truth and of practical wisdom? Is His declaration of God your theology? Is His declaration of His own Person your creed? Do you think about His Cross as He did when He elected to be remembered in all the world by the broken body and the shed blood, which were the symbols of His reconciling death? Is His teaching, that the Son of Man comes to give His life a ransom for many, the ground of your hope? Do you follow Him in your belief, and following Him in your belief, do you accept Him as the Saviour of your soul, by His death and passion? That is the first step, to follow Him, to trust Him wholly for what He is, the Incarnate Son of God, the Sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, and therefore for yours and for mine. This is a call to faith.
It is also a call to obedience. “Follow Me! ” certainly means, ” Do as I bid you “; but that is harsh. Sedulously plant your little feet in His firm footsteps; where you see His track going across the bog, be not afraid to walk after Him, though it may seem to lead you into the deepest and the blackest of it. Follow Him, and you will be right; follow Him, and you will be blessed. Do as Christ did, or as according to the best of your judgment it seems to you that Christ would have done if He had been in your circumstances; and you will not go far wrong. “The Imitation of Christ,” which the old anonymous monk wrote his book about, is the sum of all practical Christianity. “Follow Me!” makes discipleship to be something better than intellectual acceptance of His teaching, something more than even reliance for my salvation upon His work. It makes discipleship to be, springing out of these two, the acceptance of His teaching and the consequent reliance, by faith, upon His word – to be a practical reproduction of His character and conduct in mine.
It is a call to communion. If a man follows Christ he will walk close behind Him, and near enough to Him to hear Him speak, to be “guided by His eye.” He will be separated from other people and from other things. In these four things, then – Faith, Obedience, Imitation, Communion – lies the essence of discipleship. No man is a Christian who has not in some measure all four. Have you got them?
This is a very beautiful illustration of what true love really is. I can’t imagine how anyone wouldn’t want to be loved like this.
One day when I was in Brooklyn, I saw a young man going along the street without any arms. A friend who was with me, pointed him out, and told me his story. When the war broke out he felt it to be his duty to enlist and go to the front. He was engaged to be married, and while in the army letters passed frequently between him and his intended wife. After the battle of the Wilderness the young lady looked anxiously for the accustomed letter. For a little while no letter was received. At last one came in a strange hand. She opened it with trembling fingers, and read these words: “We have fought a terrible battle. I have been wounded so awfully that I shall never be able to support you. A friend writes this for me. I love you more tenderly than ever, but I release you from your promise. I will not ask you to join your life with the maimed life of mine:” That letter was never answered. The next train that left, the young lady was on it. She went to the hospital. She found out the number of his cot, and she went down the aisle, between the long rows of the wounded men. At last she saw the number, and, hurrying to his side, she threw her arms around his neck and said: “I’ll not desert you. I’ll take care of you.” He did not resist her love. They were married, and there is no happier couple than this one. We are dependent on one another. Christ says, “I’ll take care of you. I’ll take you to this bosom of mine.” That young man could have spurned her love; he could, but he didn’t. Surely you can be saved if you will accept the Saviour’s love. If God loves us, my friends, He loves us unto the end. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”