MEanderings

Weeping with Christ

[Warning: NOT a warm fuzzy post.]

Weep:  to express deep sorrow for, usually by shedding tears; to pour forth (tears) from the eyes; to express passion (such as grief) by shedding tears.

Jesus wept. 

When I learned the “shortest verse in the bible” as a child, I don’t think I understood the depth of those words. Two words. Yet so powerful. The New Testament records two occasions in which Christ wept. In these two instances, the eternal outcomes were very different. When His friend Lazarus died, we are told that Jesus was moved to tears. The scripture records that when He saw that His friends were grieving, He was greatly troubled … and cried. Even though they believed in the resurrection, Jesus sorrowed with those who sorrowed.  On another occasion, as Jesus came near to the city of Jerusalem, He felt the sting of their unbelief and He cried for them. The heart of the Savior is compassionate and merciful to all.

When I see the heart of my Lord and Master, it’s compelling. What a Savior! It calls me to worship Him with my life.

‘Cause I am a sinner, and You are the Savior.

I want to make much of You, Jesus.
I want to make much of Your love.
I want to live today to give You the praise that You alone are so worthy of.
I want to make much of Your mercy.
I want to make much of Your cross. 
I give You my life; take it and let it be used to make much of You!

When I decided to follow Jesus, I chose to die to myself and to live for Him. To understand the depth of that decision has been a process of studying Him through the pages of scripture. To make much of Him, I must pore over the pages of His life-giving Word that I can know Him well. The weeping Christ is merciful – full of grace. His mercy took Him all the way to the cross as the Justifier, even looking at His enemies and praying for their forgiveness. For those who receive His life He is a solid rock on which to stand. The weeping Christ is also just – full of truth. And His justice demands that the sin of the world be paid. For those who reject this exchange, He becomes an offensive rock on which they stumble.
To be honest, getting to know the Master isn’t always as simple as reading through some verses every day. Some of Jesus’ teachings in the gospels are hard. Some are hard to understand and some are hard to obey. The skeptics argue that we can’t even be sure that what we are reading should be attributed to Jesus. Who decides what He did say and what He didn’t say? Or even more subjective, what He meant and what He didn’t mean. Bible history scholars (all over the world) have debated these issues for years.

I realize that there are beliefs of all kinds … everywhere. Even though they are often mocked, many of the people who have concluded that the bible (66 books) is authoritative have done so using their minds and hearts. It’s interesting to me that those who have come to different conclusions often portray “bible-believers” as unintelligent and bigoted. In contrast, they would describe themselves as compassionate thinkers. I reject that! I’ve spent years studying and conversing with others and pleading with God for wisdom and understanding. I’ve read and thought until my brain has felt like it was going to explode. And I’ve also cried. My heart has been broken and burdened. I have met many compassionate thinkers, like myself, who have concluded that the bible “was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man.” And as the “perfect treasure of divine instruction, having God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error … that all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy … and is the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.” Most importantly I have concluded that “all Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.” With this foundation, I have chosen to believe that Jesus said what is recorded in Matthew 7 & 10. And I believe what He meant was that hell is real and that the Redeemed should deeply care that people might spend eternity there.
And because I believe He said it and meant it, I believe we should weep.

So, with this belief that shapes my life, I would rather be hated because I spoke and lived what I have concluded is true, rather than be liked because I didn’t. While most will not believe or receive the hard message of the cross, I should never get comfortable with passivity. Being casual about eternity doesn’t seem to be an option. It may be hard to hear and accept, but Jesus spoke very plainly about some things…

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7

“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10

My journey into the cross-centered life began years ago. When I was a child, my parents told me about surrendering my heart to Christ. And they demonstrated the surrendered life day to day. Through the years, I’ve had many questions. Some have been answered, and some have not. But one thing that has remained is a deep commitment to the scriptures that I was taught from birth.

Reconciling the words of God through the older and newer testaments has been a constant pursuit. There have been times I’ve had to close the bible and confess faith in a God I don’t fully comprehend. And with that confession is also the continued realization that I can’t ignore certain texts calling me to self-denial. I can’t take the “nice” words of Jesus and leave the rest. And because of that, I am also unable to settle for passivity when it comes to people and their eternal destination.
Singer Keith Green (in the 70s) didn’t mince words. He preached and sang the hard truths:

Do you see? Do you see all the people sinking down?
Don’t you care? Don’t you care?
Are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb not to care if they come.
You close your eyes and pretend the job is done.

“Oh, bless me, Lord! Bless me, Lord!”
You know, it’s all I ever hear!
No one aches, no one hurts, no one even sheds one tear.
But, He cries, He weeps, He bleeds.
And He cares for your needs.
And you just lay back, and keep soaking it in.
Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
‘Cause He brings people to your door, and you turn them away.
As you smile and say, “God bless you! Be at peace!”
And all heaven just weeps, ’cause Jesus came to your door.
You left Him out on the streets.

Open up! open up and give yourself away.
You see the need, you hear the cries, so how can you delay?!
God is calling, and you are the one.
But like Jonah, you run.
He told you to speak, but you keep holding it in.

Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
The world is sleeping in the dark that the church just can’t fight ’cause it’s asleep in the light!
How can you be so dead when you’ve been so well fed.
Jesus rose from the grave!
And you, you can’t even get out of bed!
Oh, Jesus rose from the dead!
Come on, get out of your bed!

How can you be so numb not to care if they come?
You close your eyes and pretend the job is done!
Don’t close your eyes, don’t pretend the job is done.
Come away! come away!
Come away with me, my love!
Come away from this mess,
Come away with me, my love!

(I told you this wasn’t warm and fuzzy.)
The hard words of a weeping Christ compel me to pray on and press on toward the goal for which God has called me. My aim is to know Him, to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings, and to be like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

On the fatal morning in Armley Jail, Leeds, England, criminal Charlie Peace was taken on his death-walk. Before him went the prison chaplain, routinely and sleepily reading some Bible verses.
Peace was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell. Could a man be so unmoved under the very shadow of the scaffold as to lead a fellow-human there dry-eyed?
“Sir,” addressing the preacher, “if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!”

And THAT is why I can not be silent nor can I be unmoved. My belief may not be popular; but if it is a genuine belief, it will not let me stay in the shadows of quiet comfort.

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