27 mája, 2010

End of the Spear

Couple of days ago I watched a movie End of the Spear. It's based on a true story of five American missionaries who met a tribe of Waodani in Ecuador. One of these missionaries was Jim Elliot, who's famous quote is: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

These five men die in the quest of bringing the Gospel to this lost tribe. But what is extraordinary, their wives take up where they left off. They go to the tribe that killed their husbands and they continue where they stopped.

Trailer for the movie End of the Spear

A little more info of Jim Elliot.

There are two quotes I want to share with you. Son of one of those missionaries asks his father just before he leaves for his last journey:

- If the Waodani attack will you defent yourself? Will you use your guns?
- Son, we can't shoot the Waodani. They're not ready for heaven. We are.

The other one comes when one woman from the Waodani tribe (that meanwhile became a Christian) is confronted with a man from her tribe. This is the way she tries to explain him the Gospel - in their language:

They came to tell you…Waengongi has a son. He was speared…but he didn't spear back. So the people spearing him…would one day live well.

I find it extremely beautiful how she related the Gospel to her people without stripping it of its power. Oh, if we could do just the same to our own people.

16 mája, 2010

God's Offspring

When Paul stood in front of "very religious men of Athens" on Areopagus he quoted one of their writers (Aratus) who wrote in his poem Phainomena: "For we are indeed his offspring." (Acts 17:28). Paul takes this statement as very true and immediately confirms this by saying: "Being then God's offspring..." (v. 29).

So knowing that we are the offspring of God, what does it mean? Paul says in Romans: "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God...The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:14.16-17).

So when the Bible speaks of Christians being sons of God and God's offspring, it really is talking about being real children of God. What is a child in the Bible?

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate
(Psalm 127:3-5)

So if we take what God says about children and apply it back to Him, just then we really get to see the picture of what it means for us and for God that we are His children. God considers us as His heritage, "treasured possession among all peoples" (Exodus 19:5). We are the fruit of His labor (death on the cross) and His "reward". We are what makes Him look glorious - like arrows in the hand of a warrior (for His love and justice is vindicated in the death of His Son Jesus Christ).

Let's look at the patriarchs and their sons. Let's take Abraham and Isaac as an example (but this works even for Isaac and Jacob or Jacob and his sons). Abraham saw in Isaac a fulfillment of the promise God gave him (land and descendants). We can even say that Isaac was something in what Abraham could boast in. Abraham loved his son above everything else in this world but not more then he loved God. And let's now look at God whether we can find any parallels. God sees in Christians the ultimate fulfillment of the promise once given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for now (literally and more fully) they are a blessing to all the nations (Genesis 12:3 - in you all the families [nations] of the earth shall be blessed). Jews were to be a blessing, a lamp, to the world but they were centered in Israel (thus their influence was limited) and eventually they failed in this mission. But Christians are nowadays spread all around the world and so the promise of being a blessing to all the nations of the earth is fulfilled even more. God loves His children and "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) Abraham offered his son Isaac as a proof of his love for God. God offered His Son Jesus as a proof and means of His love for us.

So what is the conclusion? How is this to affect our lives? Many times we hear saying: We are the children of God. But many times we lack what it really means to be His children. How is He looking at us? How does He relate to us and we to Him? Being children of God means much more then just a status. It means a reality. Reality which we are to live in. Reality where God loves us and considers us as His treasured possession, heritage, fruit of His labor. Reality in which we are His true children.

13 mája, 2010

Does My Life Matter?

In the past half a year I was strongly struggling with one problem. I asked myself a question: If I died this very night, would there be any eternal difference in this world that was made through my life? I was discouraged when I realized there wasn't. I don't mean there wouldn't be any difference at all, but there wouldn't be any that would last forever. That I would get to see the fruit of it in heaven when I would meet a person in whose life I was used by God as an instrument for salvation.

Maybe you yourself are asking that same question from time to time. Does my life matter? Has I changed anything in this world? These thoughts can be very discouraging and therefore let me tell you something. Something I thought of the other day and would like to share with all of you.

But first I think it's important for me to state what is the purpose of this article and what is not. The purpose of this article is not to give you a reason for not spreading the gospel. The goal of this article is to encourage you so that you will spread the gospel.

There's a short saying and it goes like this:

Only one life 
'Twill soon be past 
Only what's done for 
Christ will last.

And Paul says: So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Only what's done for Christ will last and do all to the glory of God. That's what matters. That's what makes the eternal difference. It's not about keeping a score of how many converts I "made". It's about: How have I glorified God? Preaching the gospel and making disciples of all the nations is our secondary goal (of responsibility if you want). The primary one is God. In Matthew 22 Jesus is answering the question:

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and FIRST commandment. And a SECOND is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 
(Matthew 22:36-39)

We don't love God because we make disciples. We make disciples, because we love God.

One day everything will be gone. All the difference we think we made on this earth will disappear and the only "thing" that will remain will be us and God. Therefore everything we do must somehow relate to God - namely, everything we do we are to do to the glory of God. And because it's done for God, it will have the eternal difference because it shall remain. An 88 years old man that today became a Christian and will die tomorrow can make an eternal difference even if he didn't get to share the gospel once. How? Simply: he lived those 24 hours as a Christian - to the glory of God.

May we all live our lives in such a way that God gets all the glory!