Have you ever had soft-serve ice cream?
Certainly you have. My favorite place to get it is called Deli-cat. At Deli-cat, you have the choice of vanilla, chocolate or vanilla and chocolate mixed. Once given the cup, you walk yourself over to the machine and pull the magical lever (the one out of the three that you choose) and watch as the cold snake of dessert slithers into your cup. It always fills faster than you expect, and you watch eagerly for it to appear, heaping at the top and then curl around and coil. You want it to look perfect and have plenty to last you a good long while…but how tall can you make it? There is an unending amount in the machine, you know. Couldn’t’ you just keep making it higher and higher? And as you think of this, the coil, which is now about five inches above the mouth of your cup, begins to slide and you feel a drip run down your arm. Oh dear, you’ve got to much. You should have just decided to cut it off a moment ago.
If you could relate at all to my story (though I doubt you’ve ever been to Deli-cat, located in Haiti,) then you may understand how I feel right now. There is so much I could say on this topic. So many words from scripture have appeared before my eyes this week, so many words from my newest favorite authoress, Elizabeth Elliot, have applied to this series as I read, so many thoughts connect to other thoughts-the flow is unending. With that in mind, I hope that you don’t find this post choppy or confusing. I am trying to organize my words clearly, but at some point (since the introduction has been mostly about ice cream and is already almost twenty lines long,) I am going to just have to cut it off. I hope that between that point and now, you find some word of hope, inspiration or a blessing of some sort.
(continued from the last post…)
The answer is of course, “yes.”
Yes, it is possible to “love thine enemy.” But sometimes (oftentimes, usually,) it seems impossible. How can we “turn the other cheek” to someone who hates us and Our Lord? How can we do this on the spot when our pride has been hurt? How can we do this without making Christians out to be cowards, wimps, push-overs?
The answer brings tears to my eyes.
Let me ask you a question: Who is behind this religion we call Christianity? Christ is.
Was He beat? Was He bruised? Were thorns jammed into His head? Was His beard ripped out? Was He nailed through His wrists and feet to a wooden cross which was staked in front of a crowd of people who spat upon Him and tore His clothes off and laughed at His agony? Did He take on every sin ever committed, every sin being committed, every sin ever to be committed? Did He? And what, I ask, was His reaction? If He is really who we claim to follow, let us look to the scriptures and learn how we must react to persecution.
When Judas betrayed Jesus and brought the soldiers to arrest him in the garden, Jesus made one very important remark: (Mathew 26:53)
“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?”
He could have summoned any sort of help, but no. He took it all upon Himself.
When He is questioned, Jesus held His peace.
He answered them when they had no right to be answered.
He remained calm, He was peaceful, He spoke the truth but did not strike back. He went to the cross in this manner. This blows my mind. The ultimate sacrifice was the One who we (claim to) follow, the One who we (supposedly) model our lives after. Sacrifice is important, it is what we are supposed to do. It is what we are supposed to be.
Elizabeth Elliot in Passion and Purity writes:
(page 40:) What kind of God is it who asks everything of us? The same God who “…did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all; and with this gift how can He fail to lavish upon us all He has to give?”
He gives all.
He asks all.
Doesn’t that make it all rather clear?
I mean, I am speaking to myself here. I sometimes take the easy route. When I don’t understand something, I pretend like there is no way I can. This is wrong…God reveals these sorts of truths to us blatantly! Sacrifice is a key element in…well, Christ-likeness! We cannot ignore it any longer.
But that still brings us to the question:
Should we actually look for pain, sacrifice, trials, the unfair life?
(to be continued)