The cost of love is a surrender of the will
Here, rather late I’m afraid, is my message for July, so I shall make it my message for both July and August! But first, let me say that I am looking forward to seeing you, if you can possibly make it, at the second Saffron Walden Bible Focus event on Saturday, September 29th at the URC church in Abbey Lane, Saffron Walden. Do put it in your diary if you haven’t already done so, and please make sure all your friends know about it as well.
I believe our theme is most appropriate and timely: “Out of Step? Christ-like Living in Today’s World”.
Jean and I were most encouraged when, at the Keswick Convention last week, we met several people who live near Saffron Walden who had either heard about Bible Focus or were glad to hear about it, and are planning on coming. It is good to know that word is getting around. What is even more exciting is that the word of God is not bound (II Tim 2:9 ESV)!
To be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ involves surrendering one’s will to his, and what Jesus said to Peter (in John 21:18) is quite staggering in its implications. He reminded him that when he was younger he was free to dress himself and go wherever he wanted. Then he warned him that when he became old someone else would dress him and lead him where he would not want to go. In saying this, Jesus was indicating the kind of death Peter would die, and by which he would glorify God. An early church Father tells us that Peter was crucified head downwards, and another wrote: “At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood this rising faith. Then is Peter girt by another when he is made fast to the cross”.
Then, after that solemn and truthful warning so that Peter could be in no two minds about the cost of discipleship, Jesus said to him, “Follow me!” No longer would that mean physically following Jesus since he would soon be exalted to his Father’s presence; but now discipleship would clearly mean to live as Jesus’ lived: by service, by suffering, and, if needs be, by death. So it is that Peter’s impending death can be said to have ‘glorified’ God, for only a death met at the end of the road of obedience can possibly glorify God.
I do not doubt that, on reaching heaven, I will find that I understood the way of salvation aright. But I do wonder sometimes if I’ll discover that I got the way of discipleship all wrong. The joy in the hearts of impoverished believers in the two-thirds world contrasts starkly with the lacklustre, cosy compromise that passes for so much modern western Christianity. In those parts of the world where it costs comparatively little to be a Christian, we have hardly begun to grasp the radical nature of the gospel. The gospels have a great deal to say about denying oneself, about taking the narrow road, about following Christ who went the way of being misunderstood, the way of suffering and of death. Yet I find myself practicing my discipleship so cheaply, and living it out so comfortably. Have the few years we have on earth come to mean so much to us, that the glories of the heaven that await us have almost lost their appeal?
Warmest greetings in Christ,
Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus