DayBreaks for 04/26/11 – The First Question

DayBreaks for 04/26/11 – The First Question

You shall have no other gods before me. – Exodus 20:3

It seems that many Christians are in to hypothetical questions.  One of the most popular might be something along this line: If you were told you would be shot if you don’t deny Christ, what would you do?  Would you go ahead and die?  We all know precisely how we would like to answer that question – even what our answer should be.  But the simple fact of the matter is that we just don’t know for sure what we’d do under those circumstances until, and if, we ever face them.  It can get worse, too: what if they weren’t threatening to kill you, but had a gun to the head of your child or spouse?  What then?

I don’t know why, but when we are dealing in hypotheticals, we leap to the worst possible case scenario.  We don’t have to go that far to learn some things about ourselves and what is really in our hearts.  For example, remember the rich young man who came to Jesus claiming he wanted to inherit eternal life, boasting about his having kept the commandments since he was a kid?  Jesus told him to go and sell all he had and give it away to the poor and then come follow him.  And the young man’s face fell and he walked away sad “because he had great possessions.”

Here’s the scenario/hypothetical: What if Jesus asked you or I to do that? Would we?

Again, from Radical, David Platt suggests we’re chasing down the wrong question again.  The FIRST question we need to wrestle with is not whether we’d sell what we own and give it away to follow Jesus, but this one: Is Jesus Lord?

There is a question that should come before all others...is He Lord?

If he is Lord, then no matter what he asks of us, we are duty bound (if we are to be disciples) to do it.  

PRAYER: Reveal our false gods to us, those things in our lives that we bow our knees to rather than to your Lordship, Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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2 thoughts on “DayBreaks for 04/26/11 – The First Question

  1. Really great post, Galen. The question you raised is a good one and it’s just honest to say that it isn’t easy to know what we’d do. I know of stories about Christians throughout the second and third century who would be sentenced to a ‘creative’ death should they refuse something as frivolous as casting incense to Diana. I used to feel like that very heroic and a perfect example of what every Christian should do in that situation. But these days I see it being a lot less black and white. I’d even go so far as to say that maybe many of those Christians were not making the right decisions.

    Here’s my reasoning. Put in that position, with a gun to my head and choice to either deny Christ and live or refuse and die, I really believe I’d just say whatever the interrogator wanted to hear. I love Jesus, yet I see no harm done to Him to doing something like that. If my wife were given a life and death ultimatum which involved making a public statement that she didn’t love me and thought I was a terrible father, I would hope with all hope that she’d just say what they wanted. Knowing the circumstances, her words have little meaning. Her life and what it brings to the world is worth much more than taking a verbal stand on our marriage. I just don’t think God would think any differently about our relationship with Him.

    I think that denying Christ has to come from the heart and the long term patterns we adopt. The decision to choose death for Christ has be about the long term effects. I say this because the history of Christian martyrdom is a mixed and convoluted picture. While I see most Christians who’ve given their lives for Christ out of love and devotion to Him, there’s another caste (especially in the 2nd and third 3rd) who seem to have relished in it for the sake of some kind of ascetic gratification and self-seeking sanctimony. The thought of being a martyr had a lot of appeal to some Christians and it wasn’t always Christ centered.

    I’ve always been troubled by a controversy that occurred in the 4th century among the churches not long after Constantine legalized Christianity. Christians who had been tried and threatened with death, but had consented to make a verbal denial of Christ and His church, were now under fire from Christians who felt they had sold out. It was during a generation that had experienced a heavy persecution of Christianity under Diocletian. Most Christians under Diocletian’s mandates were just accused, arrested, and killed in a public spectacle. But there were also many instances were Christians at the time were placed in the situation you have described in this post. Pressed with the question, “Do I let myself and my family die to deprive a pinch of incense to a statue? or do I just tell them what they want and continue to serve Christ under the radar”. These Christians didn’t leave Christianity. They faced persecution and anti-Christian pressure yet still remained with and supportive of their church. The persecution they then faced by their own church body seems to have many shades of ‘wrong’ to me.

    Yikes, this is super long, but I’m glad I’ve had to a chance to air this. I guess the measure of a Christian’s devotion to Christ is not in a brief verbal slip up or moment of weakness. Peter denied Jesus, but immediately regretted it because , evidently, He loved Him dearly. That’s all that matters. Even more, Jesus sure didn’t hold it against Peter, but, in front of the other disciples on the beach, counter-acted anyone’s possible judgement against him. He still entrusted Peter with the Gospel and His mission. So the measure of the Christian is in what someone does in their life altogether for Christ, not a split second before their death.

    /2 cents 🙂

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