Read the Bible

“Within this ample volume lies
The mystery of mysteries.
Happiest they of human race
To whom their God has given grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,
To lift the latch, to force the way;
But better had they ne’er been born
That read to doubt or read to scorn.”
(Sir Walter Scott)

Request for Transfer

Today I am posting two imaginary letters.  The author of this work is unknown, but the spiritual lesson is profound.  

Title: Request for Transfer

To: Commander in Chief, Spiritual Armed Forces, Jesus Christ

Dear Lord:
I am writing this to You to request a transfer to a desk job.
I herewith present my reasons:

I began my career as a private, but because of the intensity of the
battle You have quickly moved me up in the ranks.  You have made
me an officer and given me a tremendous amount of responsibility.
There are many soldiers and recruits under my charge.  I am
constantly being called upon to dispense wisdom, make judgments,
and find solutions to complex problems.  You have placed me in a
position to function as an officer, when in my heart I know I have
only the skills of a private.  I realize that you have promised to
supply all I would need for the battle.  But Sir, I must present You
a realistic picture of my equipment.

My uniform, once so crisp and starched, is now stained with the tears
and blood of those I have tried to assist.  The soles of my boots are
cracked and worn from the miles I have walked trying to enlist and
encourage the troops.  My weapons are marred, tarnished
and chipped from constant battle against the enemy.  Even the Book
of Regulations I was issued has been torn and tattered from
endless
use.  The words are now smeared.

You have promised You would be with me throughout, but when
the noise of the battle is so loud and the confusion is so great,
I can neither see nor hear You.  I feel so alone.  I’m tired.
I’m
discouraged.  I have Battle Fatigue.  I would never ask you for a
discharge.  I love being in Your service.  But I humbly request a
demotion and transfer.  I’ll file papers or clean latrines.
Just get me out of the battle — please, Sir.
Your Faithful, but tired soldier.

 Shortly after, the soldier received this letter from the Commander in Chief:

To: Faithful, but Tired Soldier, Spiritual Armed Forces
Location: The Battlefield
Subject: Transfer

Dear Soldier:
Your request for transfer has been denied.
I herewith present My reasons:
You are needed in this battle.
I have selected you, and I will keep My Word to supply your need.
You do not need a demotion and transfer.
(You’d never cut it on latrine duty.)
You need a period of “R and R” — Renewal and Rekindling.
I am setting aside a place on the battlefield
that is insulated from all sound
and fully protected from the enemy.
I will meet you there and I will give you rest.
I will remove your old equipment and “make all things new.”

You have been wounded in the battle, My soldier.
Your wounds are not visible,
but you have received grave internal injuries.
You need
to be healed.
I will heal you.
You have been weakened in the battle.
You need to be strengthened.
I will strengthen you and be your strength.
I will instill in you confidence and ability.
My Words will rekindle within you a renewed love, zeal and enthusiasm.
Report to Me tattered and empty.
I will refill you.
Compassionately,
Your Commander-in-Chief,
Jesus Christ


Following Jesus

“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

(Jesus Christ, as recorded in Luke 9:23, ESV)

The third aspect of the Christian life we see in this verse is following Jesus.  Following Jesus means actively identifying oneself with Jesus and willingly accepting that which he teaches.

In order to truly follow Christ, a person must deny self and take up their cross.  After ceasing to live for oneself and submitting to God’s will, a person is able to follow Jesus as he models and teaches God’s way.

Cross-Bearing

“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

(Jesus Christ, as recorded in Luke 9:23, ESV)

The second aspect  of the Christian life that Jesus mentions in this verse is cross-bearing.  As with Jesus, the Christian’s road to glory runs through the cross.  Jesus connects denial of self with the bearing of the cross, suggesting that the cross can only be carried by those who have denied self.

The daily aspect of cross-bearing is also emphasized – it must be done every day!

Many Christians misunderstand the cross – they think of their cross as a nutty boss, an unfair teacher, or a cranky mother-in-law.  Those things are not pleasant, but they are not the cross of Christ.

The cross of Christ is the suffering and rejection we experience as a result of our dedication to Christ and his gospel.  That thought prompted me to wonder, Do I have any difficulties because of how closely I am following Christ?

The world hated and rejected Christ – if we are faithfully following Christ the same will be true for us.  Taking up the cross is a commitment that will lead to rejection and possibly death.

Self-Denial

“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

(Jesus Christ, as recorded in Luke 9:23, ESV)

In this verse Jesus informs us of three aspects of the Christian life: self-denial, cross-bearing, and following after Christ.  The first of those is self-denial, which means refusing to make self that which controls your life.

Jesus and his cause are to be taken up as the Christian’s chief loyalty.  To follow Christ you must deny personal control of your own life.  Jesus modeled that for us in his sacrificial death.  It was God’s will that he die on the cross, and Jesus was fully committed to obeying that to which God had called him.

The attitude of Jesus can be seen in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion, “Not as I will, but as you will” (see Matthew 26:39).  That attitude of self-denial should characterize the life of every Christian.