He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all....
Romans 8:32 (KJV)
When I awoke this morning, after morning prayers, one of the first things I did was to check my iPad to see if there were any huge news stories or (as I like to call them) "flaming arrows". This morning's article, If I Die Before You Wake, by @ewerickson (Erick W. Erickson) riveted me. (See link under Sources: below.) I've followed Erick's career for the past few years and love that boy like a son.
I knew that Erick's wife, Kristi, had had some health problems over the years, sometimes serious ones. I knew of his recent crisis with blood clots in his lungs. I did not, however, realize the drastic turn both of their healths had taken in recent weeks. I learned from the article that his wife has been diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer that only affects non-smoking women. And, Erick continues to suffer with serious cardiovascular issues. In the article, Erick was also extremely transparent about the emotional collateral his family has suffered, due to his political stances on this presidential election. This godly, Christ-honoring family has been buffeted and battered by both health crises and our toxic American culture, in general.
Some of you have felt that, in your own life. I was reading a post by Paige on Facebook a couple days ago. She drolly said that she was not going to discuss politics anymore before the election because no matter whom she announced she was voting for, it would be wrong. Others chimed in that over-zealous friends had made Facebook an unpleasant venue, due to hateful stances and comments. It can certainly be that.
Currently, I am studying Hebrews with you, as you know, because you came here expecting another Hebrews post this morning. But, what you may not know is that I am concurrently studying the new Beth Moore study, Entrusted. I highly recommend it to anyone who is experiencing loss, due to his or her stalwart faith in Jesus Christ today. Let me close today's post by sharing some thoughts from that study of 2 Timothy.
In this letter Paul drives home the point that Christians fellowship with each other in many things: worship, fellowship, marriages, meals, laughter, Bible study - - - but that we must also be willing to suffer together the EVIL launched against us for carrying the name and testimony of Jesus, and for standing for truth and righteousness.
Standing true to the Word of God will not only open us up to attack, it will make our hearts vulnerable. Beth's words:
"The raw vulnerability of untempered love...of that handful of people who hold your heart - - -
skinned alive - - - and could slay you with their absence. Untempered love is terrifying.
But what's life if we never love others past the rational sensibilities of our self-protection?
Divine love does not spare itself. And, a life that risks no loss is no life at all."
Erick's words from this morning:
"My faith and politics are more and more irreconcilable. What matters more to me now is to do what I think is right, not to do what is popular. It is not to lead others, but to speak for those who cannot speak and do for others what they cannot do. I am no leader. I am just blessed with a platform where I say what I think is right and true and make sure those who agree know they are not alone.
The world wants believers to be alone and if my wife and I die before my children wake, they will feel alone and helpless in the world. So they must know Truth on the cross. That truth can guide them when I cannot and sustain them when I cannot and comfort them when I cannot."Beth, in her study, emphasizes the "gospel" and the "gifting". What Erick is saying here mirrors that because both of these contemporary giants of the faith are speaking Truth, based on the Word of God, the Bible. Erick, like Beth, is using his Holy Spirit-given spiritual gifts to spread the gospel. It permeates his life, and he is paying dearly for it. The man is under severe spiritual attack. I ask all you who read my words here to please, please pray for him and his family.
I also challenge you to examine your own heart, if you claim the Name of Christ, if you say you are His. Two questions:
1. Are you using the unique set of spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit gave you to spread the gospel?
2. Do you have the courage to stand for what is right and true? To stand even when it costs you dear?
Oh, Christian....as the days roll on and our world descends more and more into chaos and ungodliness, the choices we are called on to make are going to become increasingly costly! For myself, I want to draw close to Jesus Christ and cling to him now, so that as more and more tests come I will be found standing firm alongside Him whose Name is Faithful and True, to Him who was and is our Pathfinder, our Trailblazer, our Pioneer....to Him who endured the cross and despised the shame (Heb. 12:2) .... to Him who tasted not only suffering but death, so that we, His brothers and sisters, could lay hold on eternal life.
9But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Hebrews 2:9-10 (ESV)
While I certainly don't seek or crave suffering, I know that it will again touch me, as it comes to every Christian at one time or another - - not the general category of suffering common to every human at some point, but the specific kind of targeted suffering which results from bearing the name of Jesus Christ. When those times come, may we follow in the footsteps of our Perfect Savior, allowing suffering to increase our faith, to purify our dross and to cause us to walk ... resplendent! In Jesus' name, amen.
2. Moore, Beth, Melissa Moore, and Kristi Smith. Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy. Nashville, TN: Lifeway Press, 2016. Print.