Pr. Jaynan Clark

September 27, 2012


photo of Pr. JaynanOf, From or For… that is the question!”

I know there are punctuation and grammar fanatics out there who can cite a typo or fragment from twenty yards off but this is not a life threatening concern. However, as infidels (unbelievers) in the eyes of the Muslims and other religious followers, we as disciples of Jesus Christ must face the fact that the world is changing at an ever increasing pace and more than our “popularity” is in question. While it is true that we should never have expected to be “popular” as Christians or have wed our confession of faith with the conventional wisdom of the day and the cultural norms around us---we did. We became so comfortable in our societal status that we ran with the majority without question. This should have been questionable to us. The biblical witness is not one of majority rule or popularity or conformity. To now be confronted with open opposition and even hatred by the atheists, the activists and those of other faiths should not come as a surprise. But it does. To have authorities in every walk of life legislate our principals, values, teachings and practices out of every public setting should not shock us. But it does. Our complacency in “another gospel” of personal privilege, prosperity and popularity has left us vulnerable to the real world that has just now presented itself on our doorstep.

The “faith” we came to believe in and the “object” of that faith became figments of our sinful imagination. We made up a Jesus who accommodated our culture and our personal desires and hopes and dreams. We molded a religion around this one that no longer required anything of us and our lives but came with guarantee of satisfaction and success while being entertaining. Passing on bits and pieces of the Word and Jesus Himself we delivered what would be palatable and buried what would possibly challenge or offend. Goals for growth, popularity, and profit always require such action. The need to not offend but to accommodate leaves Jesus missing in action.

What we face now is a matter of life and death. The growth of Islam and other world religions and their open distain of both Jews and Christians should cause us to pause and wonder what the rub is. Do they hate our new found religion of selfism or the Christian faith of the first century and our Jewish ancestry? Perhaps they know our true Lord better than we do and His exclusive claims and character? Perhaps they understand better than we do ourselves the very nature of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Do they oppose our American arrogance or our inherent status as “infidels” because we do not follow Mohammad or call God Allah?

The issue is deeper than politics and geographic lines… it goes to the core of life and death which is where faith resides. There is a trinity of prepositions hanging in the balance.

Each of us will die “of” or “from” something, right? You die of cancer or from a heart attack. Some die from an accident others of a variety of diseases. We even say you die of old age. ‘Of’ or ‘from’ precede our death descriptions. What about in life? Do ‘of’ and ‘from’ apply? Do we live ‘of’ or live ‘from’? More often we will speak of living ‘for.’ Some live for fame, others for family, for fortune, for power, for love… to name a few. Perhaps we should consider that we can live for our faith… live for our Lord… live for our God. The scriptures say “to live is Christ to die is gain.” That’s a thought. Here is another—what about in your death? You will certainly die ‘of’ something or ‘from’ something but are you willing to die ‘for’ something, for someone? This is the question.

If your life was hanging in the balance and you were regarded as an infidel—not a true believer… and you could save yourself by denying your faith in Jesus and swearing allegiance and devotion to another, would you do it? At that point it would no longer be a hypothetical question of living ‘for’ your faith and Lord but it would be a demand to take up your cross and die ‘for’ Him and for your faith. A matter of life and death hangs in the balance of that preposition.

If your life was hanging in the balance and you were regarded as an infidel—not a true believer-- and you could save yourself by denying your faith in Jesus and swearing allegiance and devotion to another, would you do it? At that point it would no longer be a hypothetical question of living ‘for’ your faith and Lord but it would be a demand to take up your cross and die ‘for’ Him and for your faith. A matter of life and death hangs in the balance of that preposition.

Jesus didn’t die of something or from something, He died for you. He is ever present and never missing in action. In the reality of that promise of the Crucified and Risen One, to abide with you in life and in death, will you continue only to exist in this world without true life in the One who is “the way, the truth and the life” or will you live ‘for’ Him that you might also ‘die’ for Him?