To be clear on the front end, I am a Christian. To my shame, I am not entirely certain that has always come across in this blog as I often write about turning ISIS into a pile of goo. I am not saying it is wrong to defend the innocent and speak out in defense of this nation. Rather, I’m just saying that whatever it is that Jesus Christ spoke about, it wasn’t the militant patriotism that comes out in me often. Moreover, I don’t consider myself to be a shining moral example as I am without a doubt covered with many flaws of the flesh. Thankfully for me, there is the Gospel. And I just consider myself walking proof that God’s grace covers a lot. Like literally, a lot. But then I hear about children in Iraq refusing to renounce their faith in Christ in the face of certain death. ISIS beheads them and across the sea in the comfort of America, I wonder if I even get it at all. Now, I am going to try to explain the Gospel as I understand it. I am not trying to preach to you per say, but if there is no basic understanding of the Gospel, then the rest of this article simply won’t make sense. Also, to know me is hopefully to more greatly enjoy all aspects of this blog. For if the Gospel is not true, then no one is to be pitied more than Christians. The Bible literally says that. Check it out. 1st Corinthians 15:19
The Gospel as I have come to know it is this. God created the world. You can debate the science of it all you want, whether it was a 7 day creation, or whether that was allegorical. To me, the Gospel hinges on neither one exclusively. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” That rings true to my soul and if true, anything is possible. Then after creation, there was a fall of man. I wasn’t there to witness it, but I see it in myself everyday. I am remarkably Hell bent on my own destruction it seems. I have said it before that nothing has convinced me of my fallen nature like the sins I have committed since I have become a Christian. For if this is what I do now, I was totally screwed before.
Then in walks the Gospel, the good news. Namely, that despite my state of opposition to God, Christ died for me. He died, suffered the wrath of God, and upon living again, took my sins from me. Through faith and repentance, I am saved. Through no merit of my own, when the sovereign God of the universe looks at me, he does not see my sin, he sees the blameless righteousness of his son. He looks at me and says mine. It’s a remarkable thing as no one else in the world would look at me and make such a claim if they knew the worst of me as God does. It has simply been paid for and this is offered to all. I am, if the Bible is to be believed, an adopted son of the Most High God. Something the Angels look down and marvel at according to the Bible. The Bible goes on to use an example that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who found a great treasure in a field. In his joy, he went and sold all he had and bought that field. Keep that in mind as we move on.
Faith of Children
So we know the reports of the slaughter of Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. However, the story of which I am speaking about specifically, is the report of at least 4 Christian children beheaded for refusing to renounce their faith in Christ. You see, it would appear that these children really had found a treasure in a field for which all else, including their own life, couldn’t measure up. I live in a country in which I can find an endless supply of Christian literature, training, and churches. I have no idea what these children’s full grasp of doctrine or theology looked like, but I know they understood it more than you and I.
You see myself, despite my growing awareness and knowledge of what Christ did for me, I rarely look like the guy that sold all he had upon finding the treasure. Often times, I look like the guy who found the treasure, took out a lease on the field, and then sat down at the nearest bar to see what would happen. I wish it weren’t so, but again, living proof that God’s grace is patient, loving, and covers a whole lot. Now, in Churches in America you will hear a great deal of things that it supposedly means to be a Christian. Growing up in a moralistic church environment, I was fed the idea that if just didn’t curse, drink, or have intercourse, then I surely understood it. It was a list of regulations of some sort that I would unfortunately grow up to learn that I really like all 3 and then some. Looking back, it would have been more fruitful for me to simply be told, Christ has gifted you the free gift of salvation and now it’s time to start dying. So get to dying that you might live.
Death to Self
To me this is really the heart of the issue. Whereas some moralistic guidance is helpful, it is not the path to becoming more like Christ. Nor is joining a particular denomination or ascribing to a particular line of Christian thought. Through faith and repentance in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been gifted that treasure in the field. It’s ours. What do we do now? Quit sinning or start dying?
You see, it really doesn’t matter what your particular cup of tea in regards to sin might be. No one whom follows Christ is immune from the call to die to self. Upon reading the word of God, gathering with believers, and praying with the Spirit, I am confident God will reveal what it means for you to die to yourself. The only real question is, will you? As I said earlier, I often don’t. What my flesh desires is just too easily accessible here in America. What a wretched man I am, but praise be to God whom through Jesus has given me a new life.
Paul exemplified this in Acts 20:24 “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” It’s funny how willing I was to die for my country in Iraq but unwilling to die to the desires of my flesh. It’s not that I am not a man of sacrifice, it’s just that I don’t sacrifice as I ought to for the things that eternally matter.
Belief in Action
So here we have these children in Iraq. You see, I supposed they could have lied and said they renounce Jesus. I think if you are in Christ, that your mere words or actions in a moment of weakness are still still covered by the grace of Christ. Man I really hope so anyways. So these youth had their opportunity to keep their treasure, and just take a slight detour from selling all. However, they didn’t relent. They literally sold all with an obvious deeper understanding of what the treasure looked like than most American Christians, myself included. Would is surprise you that part of me was wondering whether or not I should speak about my faith to such a degree in this article. Would I lose followers and readers? Maybe, but I’ll still have my head and thus these children convict me again.
Would it surprise you that Jesus spoke more about the dangers of wealth than drinking, cursing, or screwing? I’m just saying the rich moralistic Christian in a mansion might have more to answer for than he thinks. It’s entirely possible he sold the possessions he never wanted in the first place and kept that little piece that he was always called to die to in the first place. I know I do. So ISIS is not trying to cut my head off, but I am called to die none the less. What is it for me? What is it for you? Maybe it’s just to die to your flesh and believe in faith for the first time. I don’t know. But I believe God to be a good and inclusive God. Just one that calls us to die so that we might truly live. Some may take a theological issue with what I have said at some point, but this is not a theology blog. It’s a personal blog and I am just stating where I am at on things. I don’t claim to be an authority, just a testimony to the grace of Christ and the working process of becoming more like him. I just appear to be on God’s 20 year dunce plan, that’s all.
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