What of the past?

Originally Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2005
Mood: caffeinated
Now Playing: Throne Room Worship
Topic: martyrdom and adventure

 “To me there will never be enough thanks to give, words high & deep enough to give to the Lord. I don’t know how to give back to God what He deserves than to just worship with my life and every part of me. My desire in worship is to gaze so deeply in to the face of God that i may experience His presence as much as I can here on earth. Then hopefully when i get to heaven, i might recognize His face.”
-Kari Jobe
Isn’t that the point? We can never give back to God what has been given to us, but out of our thankfulness we serve. So to give you a brief synopsis, I have been in a state of leaning back into a small portion of church history, from the reformation period up until now. Mainly the ‘baptist’ segment of this history (as I stare at my “Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage” which is sitting on my desk. I know, it seems out of character for me to look at such things, especially for those of you who know my theological viewpoints well. This is very few of you, so don’t be surprised if you don’t know that I pull from a variety of traditions and do not consider myself ‘baptist’. Now the question that you are probably wondering is, what does this have to do with the topic of martyrdom? Well, most things in my life I can relate to martyrdom as it is a big issue in my life, as some of you know. However, here’s the relation between Baptist history and martyrdom: when I read how the protestants and catholics treated the early baptists, I can’t help but think of the persecuted church and Romans 8:35-36 where Paul writes “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'” I think of these stories that I have been hearing, stories of people being burned at the stake for their beliefs, and about the most common method of killing them being death by ‘baptism’. I remember a story of one pregnant woman who was beat, had a miscarriage and then she died shortly thereafter. It inspires me of what God has called me to. That I should go and “fill up” what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings or, in other words, embody Christ to others. It’s about Him and about them and God has called us to proclaim Christ to them regardless of the price. Throughout church history people are called to show Jesus through suffering. In our suffering God will sustain us. This is the intimacy of Christ that we would know His suffering. May our prayer be that of Paul, who in Philippians 3:10&11 said “I want to know Christ and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” It reminds me of a song:
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary When troubles come and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence, Until you come and sit awhile with me.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas I am strong, when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up… to more than I can be. You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas I am strong, when I am on your shoulders You raise me up… to more than I can be.

This is the point of intimacy with Christ through His suffering. The point is that only He can sustain us in it. That this suffering is embodying Christ. As we follow Christ’s example of taking the low road, only God can hold us in that place. It is based on our intimacy with our Lover, our Daddy!!!!! Baptism is a picture of death, and through our death Jesus is manifest. At the end of Peter Pan the phrase is uttered, “Death will be an awfully big adventure.” Isn’t it true that we are on a journey, an adventure, of following Jesus and that it is only through our death that we can follow Him? “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”, (Matt. 16:24)and don’t you know that the cross is never a burden but always a death. Come to the banquet table of freedom through the death of yourself and the laying down of your own rights. You are invited to dine with the Lord on the richest of fare by finding the life that death offers.