October 2013

bear

In front of the Marysville Planned Parenthood, the cars on State Street  streamed past as I stood staring at the pavement, lost in prayer. Just at the edge of my vision, in the middle of the flowing river of cars, I perceived a motionless object. Raising my head I saw a vehicle, stopped in the center lane, directly in front of me. As my eyes met the driver, he said, “May Jesus fill you with peace and strengthen your inner man. Stand strong brother!” Then just as quickly as he appeared, he drove away. It is impossible to impart the peace that swept over me. What encouragement and strength  flooded my soul. I rejoiced and sang to the Lord.

Another encounter that I had just before this was quite different. As a car pulled into the PP parking lot, it didn’t even come to a stop before the passenger jumped out and charged directly toward me. I could tell that I was going to have my hands full! I uttered an unspoken prayer as the angry young woman approached saying, “So your against abortion?” “Yes.” I replied. She let loose a flurry of not unfamiliar statements about “Choice”, “Rights”, “Bigotry”, etc. which, for the most part, I did not respond to. Then she began to tell me about Jesus, saying,  “Jesus wouldn’t be out here condemning women.” And started telling me what He would be doing instead. At this point I interjected with feigned indignation ,  “Why are you talking about Jesus, what makes you think that I am a Christian?” Then added, “How do you know that I am not a Muslim, praying to Allah to end abortion?” She was silent. I let the silence ring for as long as I dared. “Of course I am a Christian!” I said. “Isn’t it interesting that you knew that?” I added. Then I challenged her to go to any abortion facility anywhere in the country and see who is standing outside. You will not find Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, or so-called Atheists,  only those that name the name of Jesus. ”Yes,” I told her, “only those who follow Christ are laying down their lives for the defenseless  children in the womb and pleading with mothers and fathers who have believed the lie that killing their offspring will relieve their fear.” I asked her to consider how it is that she knew that I was a Christian. I wish I could say that this hurting young woman had experienced a “180” in her thinking but she had not. Still this exchange had given her pause to reflect upon her assumptions.

Both of these experiences reveal a very important point of fact: Christians are the only ones who are able to engage in this battle and win it. And what is more, everyone, both believers and unbelievers, whether they  realize it or not,  intuitively know this. Some may disagree with this statement, but experience and scripture overwhelmingly confirm its validity.

Consider the stark contrast between Islam and Christianity in our day. Which religion encourages and glorifies strapping a bomb to oneself and blowing up innocent women and children? Answer: Islam. Who commands his  followers  to lay down their lives and suffer and if need be die that others may live? Answer:  Jesus.   How else could it be? “For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.”

Jesus stated that the Law and the Prophets hang upon two commands: to love God and to love our neighbor. But He calls His followers even higher – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Jesus commands us to love one another, not just as we love ourselves, but as He has loved us.  Hear the testimony of Paul, one who knew what it meant to follow Jesus, “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

So brothers and sisters take courage. We have our marching orders!  Let us deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow our King that others might live, both now and for eternity and that the world may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven.

Finally, lest any should doubt the certainty of the outcome, receive with a believing heart these words:

“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”