Monday, February 14, 2005

What are you willing to die for?

Steve at whatever posted about the current situation in our denomination. After a proposal to disband our denomination and join another failed, we are faced with a problem of direction. Steve asked the question, "What do we really care about?" He points out that we believe in many things, but questions whether we can truly say we care about them as a hallmark of our brotherhood. I agree with what he has posted. If you aren't familiar with our denomination, it's not necessary to know much more than I've stated, for this is something that applies to Christian and non-Christian alike. But I think it goes beyond what we really care about. I think we must all ask ourselves, "What am I willing to die for?"

Now before you start thinking I'm rounding up a suicide cult or something, let me explain. Is there something in your life which trumps everything else? Many would give everything for the safety of a child or a spouse. Hundreds have given their all in Iraq to help protect the USA and to liberate the Iraqi people. A bodyguard is paid to take a bullet for the person he is protecting. What about you? What's the trump card in your life?

The "correct" answer for a Christian is that we'd die for Christ Jesus, but most everyone has wondered deep within if they would really stand strong or deny Christ to save his own skin. The example of the martyrs makes for inspirational reading, but could I make that same sacrifice? Do I mean it when I call Jesus, "Lord"?

Maybe all this is rumbling around in my head because of the current state of the denomination. A majority of the membership voted down the chance to join forces with another group, and I know there were many who seriously prayed and considered if this was the move God wanted us to make. Hey, I was in that group myself. Some of these people voted to approve and others voted to reject. But I also heard from people who voted to reject the proposal simply because it meant that the denomination they loved so much would cease to be the way they wanted it. In short, these folks either believed that the denomination was more important than God's will or that God would never call on us to give up our denominational identity. Or maybe both. I had no problem with a "no" vote based on serious consideration of the implications of the proposal. I had big problems with a "no" vote based on loyalty to a denominational label.

I'm certainly not going to preach here, but the statements Jesus made call us to sacrifice. He gave us the example. He said He would divide families. I know that is true. He said we must be willing to deny ourselves. There's no getting around that either. I don't think we fully appreciate the call we've responded to as believers. It's not a call to health and wealth as so many TV huckster/preachers claim. It's a call to drag around our own cross -- for Him. It's a call to give everything on earth -- for Him. But still there are people who will stay home from Sunday worship if the church air conditioner is acting up. Can't be expected to break a sweat, after all.

Probably all the head rumbling is because I have my doubts about myself. Do I have idols I've put in front of God? Am I willing to give up my other business for Christ? My lifestyle? My family? My denomination? I'd sure better be. And I'd appreciate it if someone catches me putting something before God's will, if you would just give me a solid kick in the back pockets. If pastors in China are being thrown into jail for preaching the Gospel, I'd better be prepared to do the same.

The leaders of my denomination are meeting as I type this. I pray that they are willing to put Christ and His will ahead of everything else. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me strength to break down the idols in my life and focus upon giving myself for Him -- even to the point of death.

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