We are living in a very uncertain, unpredictable and confusing time - a time when we are bombarded with instant as well as changing information through the world of the Internet. On Pentecost Sunday on 27th May 2012, I was reminded of the need of our world to see what sacrificial love can do. Jesus came to show us through the cross the agape love of God as our Heavenly Father. Christians are called to be his witnesses by following him in the way of the cross. The central discipline of Christianity is to follow Jesus.
The only road map that Jesus had was the voice of God. The safest and surest way to move with God is by following Jesus. Laurie Hall draws attention to the truth that it is not knowing how our lives are going to turn out that is important but Who is going to turn it out. When we face the storms in our lives we need to hold fast to the truth that Jesus never fails. As we do so our lives will be transformed just as the disciples were.
However, following Jesus is not a picnic trip but a journey filled with pitfalls and dangers. It is a time when we will be confronted with the evil within ourselves and our need for God's healing grace. It is a time when our hearts will be purified by being broken. Laurie Hall, in her book, An Affair of the Heart, shared how God raised her dead marriage by breaking her heart. She found that when her heart was broken, the first thing that came out was fear with all its hatred and anger - the "fear that is the slave master of dead souls." At the same time, she realized that anger and hatred don't belong just to fear. She wrote:
"Love also had its anger and hatred. God is love and in that love, His wrath burns like fire against the things that destroy those He loves. God is love and in that love, He hates it when things are wrong. As we learn how to love, we will discover that some things make us ferociously angry and some things arouse a depth of hatred we never knew was possible. But because our hearts are not pure like God's heart, we are often disappointed to discover that the anger and hatred that flow from love are frequently mingled with the anger and hatred that comes from fear."
Rico Tice, the preacher at All Soul’s Church on Pentecost Sunday reminded us that the grace of God is the key to understanding the New Testament during the service on Pentecost Sunday. It was Martin Luther’s encounter with God through the Book of Romans that gave him the life changing insight into the truth that “the just shall live by his faith.” The whole Scripture took on a new meaning and the “justice of God” which had filled him with hate became “inexpressibly sweet in greater love. The Book of Romans became a gate to heaven for him. Martin Luther shared the following important truth about God’s grace:
“If you have a truth faith that Christ is your Saviour, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. Thus it is to behold God in faith that you should look upon his fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness. He who sees God as angry does not see him rightly but looks only on a curtain, as if dark cloud had been drawn across his face.”
Henry Blackaby noted that God is known for using ordinary men to advance his kingdom in extraordinary ways. Our lives must be, to quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the "audible song of praise of God and Jesus Christ." This is the fruit of the invisible work of the Holy Spirit in obedient hearts.
To follow Jesus is therefore the secret to a life of sacrificial love, joy and peace. Let us encourage one another to follow Jesus so that our lives will be filled with the chorus:
“How marvellous! How wonderful, and my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful! Is my Saviour’s love for me!