In  HOPE

  In HOPE 8.10 

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David Timms  

Ministry Resource

I recently read an outstanding excerpt from Jurgen Moltmann's The Power of the Powerless (SCM Press, 1983). It was enough to make me look up the book and put it on my wish list. You might want to check it out, too. Moltmann's personal history, which includes POW experiences in World War II clearly shape his theology of life, death, and hope.

Hope Happenings

On Thursday April 10, Hope International University will host a special Pastors Legal Seminar from 8.30am-12.00pm. 

This seminar is presented by the Pacific Justice Institute to help pastors and church leaders better understand and deal with current legal trends and problems that churches are facing today. For more information see www.hiu.edu.

 

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831

 

"If we do not bear the cross of the Master, we will have to bear the cross of the world, with all its earthly goods. Which cross have you taken up?" 
~
Sadhu Sundar Singh


Our Cross

We don't talk much about our cross. On Good Friday we may give 30 minutes to speak about Jesus on His cross. In communion services we might briefly consider Christ's cross again. But when was the last time you heard a sermon, listened to a radio guru, or read an article that called you to take up your own cross?

 

We have an utterly deficient theology of the cross-our own cross.

 

We want our lives to be improved, not transformed. We want the "free gift" of salvation without the responsibility to "die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31) to ourselves. We want blessing without duty, grace without obligation, and life without death. 

 

Thomas a Kempis, writing in the 15th century, observed:

There will always be many who will love Christ's heavenly kingdom, but few who will bear his cross. Jesus has many who desire consolation, but few who care for adversity. He finds many to share his table, but few will join him in fasting. Many are eager to be happy with him; few wish to suffer anything for him.... Many are awed by his miracles, few accept the shame of his cross.

Will we go the second half with Him?

 

We will not find a higher way to follow him, or a less exalted one. No other path of faith is so dangerous, or so safe; so necessary, or so neglected. The Cross has become a sentimental symbol-a mere trinket worn around the neck-rather than our vocation.

 

We have concluded that crucifixion is for people under persecution. We're grateful for the freedoms we have that make martyrdom unnecessary. But those very freedoms have become our chains, because crucifixion has never been an option for the followers of Christ. First, His crucifixion, not just His teaching, becomes the focal point of our faith. Second, we are crucified with Christ ourselves-not in some abstract theological sense of the term, but in earthy ways every day.

 

Discipleship is commitment to the suffering Christ. We do not merely look on as interested, or perhaps appalled, observers. We yield our lives to share in His suffering.

 

The apostle Paul abandoned himself completely to Christ and considered all of his achievements as rubbish "that I may gain Christ ... that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, that I may attain to the resurrection of the dead" (Philippians 3:8, 10-11). It's that middle section that we resist.

 

Sadhu Sundar Singh got it right. We will bear a cross of one sort or another. Perhaps the spiritual lethargy that we feel, our disillusionment with faith, our powerlessness and impotence, our boredom and frustration all stem from the misguided pursuit of a costless grace and a deathless life.

 

Those of us ready to die to ourselves-our own interests, "rights," preferences, and needs-might suddenly discover resurrection life in our marriages, families, workplaces, and churches. This past Sunday-Easter Sunday-should have taught us this if nothing else.

 

In HOPE -

 

David

 

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.