The Herald Weekly Vol XVI : 47

Unique Life’s Journey

The way that Christians respond to God’s calling is to bear the Christ, live the life of a Christian, and to submit to the will that the Lord has apportioned to our lives. There is no doubt, no regrets and no turning back! Submitting to the Lord’s will is not just a choice, but also something that is inevitable, and a necessity. It is not we who have chosen to be Christ’s disciples, but the Lord has chosen us in the first place. Hence, we ought to come with hearts of thanksgiving to submit to what He has planned in our lives – whether smooth or not. Even though the encounters and the experience of each believer is unique and different, His calling in all of our lives have the same purpose – “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).

A Christian’s life may end in martyrdom. Christian history records that early believers took up their crosses and walked the way of sorrows to Golgotha – the way of martyrdom. Of the first twelve apostles of Christ, ten of them were killed for their faith.

1. Peter was crucified upside down on the cross.
2. Andrew was crucified on a diagonal cross.
3. James, son of Zebedee was decapitated by Herod Antipas in AD 44.
4. Philip was imprisoned, tortured and crucified.
5. Bartholomew was skinned and decapitated.
6. Thomas was pierced through by a spear during his ministry in India.
7. Matthew the tax collector was pierced through by a halberd.
8. Thaddaeus was crucified.
9. Simon the Zealot was crucified.
10. Matthias, after being stoned, was beheaded.

The only exception is John, the brother of James. He was the only apostle who died of old age (The end of James, the son of Alphaeus, is left unclear). John avoided the persecution of Emperor Nero, but during the persecution of Emperor Domitian, he was exiled to Patmos Island where he wrote the epic book of Revelation. After the death of Emperor Domitian, he returned to the Church at Ephesus. At a ripe old age (believed to be a centenarian), when he has to be carried on a stretcher, due to his struggling legs, to preach, he would persuade the young people, “my little children, love one another.” As he often preached on the theme “God is Love,” which later earned him the nickname “the apostle of love.”

For every follower of our Lord Jesus, the end will be different. Nevertheless, our calling is still to faithfully follow Him till the end. Perhaps, there may be occasions when we would be like Peter who was curious to ask the Lord Jesus the following, “Lord, and what shall this man do?”

And the reply from our Lord Jesus was, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me” (John 21:21- 22). The correct perspective towards life is to live for the Lord with all our hearts and mind. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Our Attitude Towards Life

The life of a Christian can be described as living in the moment, yet with eternity’s values in view. The Apostle Paul exhorts in the book of Colossians to “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). The passage makes two points, namely, our basic attitude towards life on earth, and the fundamental principles we ought to abide by in our life on earth.

Regarding our attitude towards the present life – despise it not, but do not place too much emphasis upon it. With a heart of thanksgiving, regard not our present life with too much emphasis. God has both richly blessed and granted us trials in our present life. John Calvin uses such to describe the attitude of a Christian towards the present world – to regard the present life less in comparison with the life of eternity. It is not to neglect our current life, but to thirst for the eternal. Besides, to regard the present life as transient and temporal, but to live with eternity’s values in view and to pursue after eternity’s treasures.

This attitude in turn extends to three main principles in the way we should live our lives. First, to live as though we possess not. This is based on the word of the Apostle Paul, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away” (I Corinthians 7:29-31). This is the manifestation of how we should live with eternity’s values in view.

Second, to be God’s faithful stewards – to regard our current work as God’s heavenly calling for us. This also includes our relationships with people around us. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10). By denying ourselves, God will eventually use us as channels of blessings towards other people – this also concerns how we should regard God’s blessings in our lives and the reason God blesses us. It is not to selfishly enrich ourselves, but through His blessings in our lives, that others may be blessed – the body of believers and people whom we encounter in our lives.

Therefore, wherever we have been placed or whatever jobs we hold, they are God’s calling for us to do His will, to serve Him and to be His faithful stewards. As for the fruits borne, they are not for our self-gratification, but a means to serve someone else. From the basic working principle, to regard our work as God’s calling, to be God’s stewards, committing to God what He has blessed us with and to commit ourselves in serving others and the community-at-large, this then is living with eternity’s values in view (Philippians 4:17,18).

Third, to view death as a matter of fact. In our regular dealings, it is not just about our relations with the world. There should also be an awareness of life’s brevity and the eventuality of meeting Christ in the near future. This pertains to how we should view death, and to look forward to the life that is to come. The Apostle Paul, left a lasting legacy for us as a reference “having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).

Instinctively, most people have a fear of death. Death for the believer is just a transition of the current life to the next – a step from the temporal to the eternal. Hence, the trying of our Christian lives – self-denial, bearing the Cross, awareness of the eternity – these are the essentials for us to help us look at death biblically through the teaching of the Scriptures, and with the joy and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Then, we shall be better prepared and to view life after death with greater joy. The life as a follower of Christ can be summed up by the following passage, “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).

Rev Daniel Tan
Article from Calvary Jurong, Weekly 4 Nov’18

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