march 8th - How Far?
I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God,and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Romans 9:1-5 (NKJV)
First responders, such as paramedics, firemen and the police; often put their lives at risk for an opportunity to save others in need. Who can forget the heroic efforts of these brave individuals on 9/11! This was not the first time that first responders died to save others, and the same kind of bravery has been repeated many times since. Some might argue that the risk of bodily harm is simply a part of the first responder's job description. Still, it takes real conviction and courage to rush into a burning building in order to save someone.
The Apostle Paul was filled with passion for the his lost brethren and was willing to put everything on the line in order to save them. "For I could wish that I myself were
accursed from Christ for my brethren." Talk about setting the bar high--to wish myself damned in order that some might be saved? That is the exact price that Jesus paid in order to take my place. The Prophet Isaiah foresaw the atoning work of Christ and the extent that Jesus was willing to go in order to save us: Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV)
As I consider the example and sacrifice of Jesus and the Apostles of the early church, a question is whispered to my heart by the Holy Spirit: "How far are you willing to go to save some?" I ponder the question in my heart. Do I care enough to reach out beyond my comfort zone; do I care enough to be inconvenienced; do I care enough to follow the leading of the Spirit; do I care enough to share the Good News with my friends and neighbors?
If I am honest with myself--this is another area in my life where I need the Holy Spirit to transform me. To take me from my place of placidity to a place of overwhelming love. To place within my heart a deep abiding love that is concerned enough with the eternal destiny of people that I take action to touch them with God's love.
Author's Note: There is an old hymn of the church that we used to sing as a chorus. The lyric wonderfully expresses the sentiment of the Apostle Paul's words. "Lord lay some soul upon my heart, and love that soul through me, and may I ever do my part, to win that soul for thee." Amen! RJD