This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free, compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Father William Edwin Orchard, one of England's great preachers, there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15)
Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. (Hebrews 13:13)
"It may take a crucified Church to reach the world with the message of a crucified Christ."
A moment of introspection: Crucifixion was a widely applied form of torture employed in Christ's day and beyond. That said, I have often heard it said as well, that Christians should follow (if they follow anyone) a man with a limp. Such a man was Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, tortured for his faith in Christ, and founder of Voice Of the Maryrs, an organization serving the persecuted Church today. Find out what his example might mean for us. He has authored books such as Tortured for Christ (available through www.vombooks.com). Such a man, too, is Pastor Wally Magdangal, tortured for his faith in Jesus Christ, and founder and current head of Christians In Crisis, a ministry devoting its resources to serving God and persecuted believers in Christ whose Christian experiences are those of dhimmitude, ridicule, physical attacks, efforts toward demoralization, kidnapping and forced marriage and conversion to another religion, execution, verbal taunts, and more forms of attack from the fallen one, Satan, and his servants. Check out resources available on the www.christiansincrisis.net web site store—resources such as a booklet entitled "Arrested in The Kingdom". There are many who have been found worthy to suffer for the sake of the Name of Jesus Christ, who Himself was crucified (tortured) and executed by ruling authorities of His day. We would do well to learn from ones who have counted the cost and borne their own cross.
So, today, what would a "crucified Church" look like? What would it mean for church-goers to be part of a crucified Church? Some thoughts include a church consisting of members not only understanding the church's mission of going into all the world and making disciples, but also seeing and accepting our role in accomplishing this mission. Reaching the world with the message of a crucified Christ implies more than telling non-believers about Jesus Christ, but learning how to most effectively convey this message to a non-believing world which denies the existence of sin. In Jesus' day, the authorities who crucified our Savior did not accept that they were doing the work of sin. Nor does our present age comprehend or accept the sin in which they live.
A crucified Church might know God's will and accept it to the degree that God's will is supreme in our thinking and our willing, to the point that with Christ, we too may say as He did in Matthew 26:39b (ESV) ... "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." Oh, to have that degree of surrender! Andrew Murray's lecture entitled "Absolute Surrender" advocates stridently for the surrender of a crucified Church. God wants all of us: all of me, and all of you. In his discourse, Mr. Murray quoted 1 Kings 20:1-4, and explained: "What Ben Hadad asked was absolute surrender; and what Ahab gave was what was asked of him--absolute surrender. I want to use these words: 'My Lord, O King, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have,' as the words of absolute surrender with which every child of God ought to yield himself to his Father." A crucified Church; "not my will..."
A crucified Church might spurn the bent toward worldly attractions; do they satisfy? Lives focused on entertainment and not on God; do they reward beyond this transitory life? Lives dulled by habits of drunkenness or sloth and not fervently dedicated to the invigorating study of, and application of, God's Word; do they edify and produce fruit for the Kingdom? Eyes and minds and lives given to the rule of impulse and distraction and not to staid and stalwart giving to the Lord and His work on this earth; in diversion, do they keep their eyes on the prize, of the upward call of Christ Jesus? (Philippians 3:14) This is a hard calling, made easy by Christ Himself: Matthew 11:29 (ESV) "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
As members of a crucified Church, we might each begin the new day of each morning by asking God to "direct my paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6) "Delight yourself in the Lord," the Psalmist urges each of us. (Psalm 37:4-5) If we are troubled and the animosity of the world lies heavily upon us, let us run to God; if we are burdened, hie to Him. His Name is a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10) and in that name we find rest for our souls. A crucified Church, a church absolutely surrendered to God, can be a mighty tool for the promulgation of the gospel and the creation of disciples--which is our great commission. We are placed here at this time, at this place, that we may be mightily used by God for a divine end.
A crucified Church hears the strains of the gospel song, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full on His wonderful face; and the things of the world will look strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." A crucified Church does not live a life of indulgence, appetite/greed and sloth. A crucified Church is alive, and reaching out to a lost and dying world, to bring healing and saving through Christ, the crucified Savior. May it be so in our lives.