Are you man enough …

I came across this poem that gives you ‘knots’ in your stomach.  I am sharing the full  post on http://soulofachristiantriathlete.blogspot.com/2009/03/adrian-plass-poem.html whom I thank profusely for sharing this.

Adrian Plass Poem

 If you are interested on learning more about Adrian Plass, please visit his site at www.adrianplass.com.

When I became a Christian I said, Lord, now fill me in,
Tell me what I’ll suffer in this world of shame and sin.
He said, your body may be killed, and left to rot and stink,
Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen – I think.
I think Amen, Amen I think, I think I say Amen,
I’m not completely sure, can you just run through that again?
You say my body may be killed and left to rot and stink,
Well, yes, that sounds terrific, Lord, I say Amen – I think.

But, Lord, there must be other ways to follow you, I said,
I really would prefer to end up dying in my bed.
Well, yes, he said, you could put up with the sneers and scorn and spit,
Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen – a bit.
A bit Amen, Amen a bit, a bit I say Amen,
I’m not entirely sure, can we just run through that again?
You say I could put up with sneers and also scorn and spit,
Well, yes, I’ve made my mind up, and I say, Amen – a bit.

Well I sat back and thought a while, then tried a different ploy,
Now, Lord, I said, the Good book says that Christians live in joy.
That’s true he said, you need the joy to bear the pain and sorrow,
So do you want to follow me, I said, Amen – tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Lord, I’ll say it then, that’s when I’ll say Amen,
I need to get it clear, can I just run through that again?
You say that I will need no joy, to bear the pain and sorrow,
Well, yes, I think I’ve got it straight, I’ll say Amen – tomorrow.

He said, Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me
A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sanctity,
The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit,
Now tell me, will you follow me? I said Amen – I quit.
I’m very sorry Lord I said, I’d like to follow you,
But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do.
He said forget religion then, and think about my Son,
And tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done.

Are you man enough to see the need, and man enough to go,
Man enough to care for those whom no one wants to know,
Man enough to say the thing that people hate to hear,
To battle through Gethsemane in loneliness and fear.
And listen! Are you man enough to stand it at the end,
The moment of betrayal by the kisses of a friend,
Are you man enough to hold your tongue, and man enough to cry?
When nails break your body-are you man enough to die?
Man enough to take the pain, and wear it like a crown,
Man enough to love the world and turn it upside down,
Are you man enough to follow me, I ask you once again?
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said Amen.

Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen; Amen, Amen, Amen,
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said, Amen.

 

And from me Amen ten times and more … tough Lord but I’ll try.

(PS. In following protocol of sharing the post I mention that the highlights of last verses are mine )

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God Incarnate : The Mystery beyond Words

My response to an Essay Question “The incarnation of the Son of God and the problems that this doctrine has given to Christian believers and thinkers.”  in a Christology Classroom Exam, First Year, Degree in Theology.   The links have been added for this post. 

Extract Exam paper Christology

Extract – Answer Script

The historical fact of the birth and death of a man called Jesus Christ who entered history just over 2000 years ago – and changed its course so that the Western World counts time from his death – is not a matter of great dispute.

Neither is there any great dispute that this man was a preacher and moral teacher par excellence.  Even detractors of his time granted that he worked miracles and wondrous signs and healed persons, cast out evil spirits and performed many wonders.   The biggest problem was however the fact that he claimed to be the Son of God and that his followers believed him.

Continue reading

Why the Cross? A Postscript …

Velazquez_Christ

Philip Yancey in his book ‘The Jesus I never knew’ refers  to speculation by  John Howard Yoder on what might have happened if God had intervened to grant the request “take this cup from me.”

‘ As Yoder reminds us, the cross, the “cup that now seemed so terrifying was the very reason Jesus had come to earth.  Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who took his cloak, who prays for those who despite-fully use him.  The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to the kingdom.  Nor is it even the way to the kingdom; it is the kingdom come.

Awesome words !!!!

Can we ever  say enough on the wonder of the Cross?  We can only grasp slivers of the truth as we meditate on 1  Corinthians 1.17 cf) .

Photo Credit : http://www.jesus-story.net/painting_crucifixion.htm

WHY THE CROSS?

"The Son of Man came ... to give his life as a ransom for many."  Mark 10:45.

“The Son of Man came … to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

With all thy getting, get an understanding  (Proverbs 4:7)

 On his death bed, Pope John XXIII (whose vision convened Vatican II) had stated:

“It’s not the Gospel that has changed, it is just that we can understand it better.” 

I find this statement so comforting when I grapple with questions like the meaning and purpose of the Cross – for I am a Doubting Thomas by nature.   I could not accept a+ b = c in Algebra without questioning why a or b etc. .. so it is no surprise I had difficulty accepting the statement of faith that Jesus died to save us from our sins: that he gave his life as a ransom for many that so many Christians accept without question.

Sure, I accepted it as a child.  But when the age of  so called reason hit me, what was black and white became grey, cloudy, and foggy. I realized I could not give a proper explanation if a non-Christian asked me how Christ’s death on the cross saved us from our sins  – and why God wanted such a sacrifice from his Son. I found myself fumbling to explain what I did not understand.

  1. He gave himself as the perfect sacrifice as a ransom for many. 
 I wondered if was just and fair.  Did God really want this sacrifice ?
  1. We are “saved” by his death. 
How exactly can his death ‘save’ us?  I sincerely wanted explanations. Could we not have been “saved” another way?  
  1. What is my sin that deserved such a death?
I don’t  think I commit any big sins that warrant Jesus dying on the cross for me. Maybe that alone makes me a sinner! 

Like the Jews, I too had  questions on the scandal of the cross, (1 Cor. 1.18-21) so I dug deep for answers.

  • I learned about the Jewish/Old Covenant tradition of sacrificial atonement, the unblemished lamb and the scapegoat tradition linked with the Passover.
  • I understood much more the beautiful connection to the Paschal mystery of the New Covenant.
  • I realised that the Hebrew people, though saved from death by the cross marked in blood on the lintel of the  doorpost (Exodus 12.7),  still had to journey to the Promised Land.
  • I accept that we too,  even though marked by the blood of the Cross of Jesus, still have to undertake our own Exodus from this life to the next.
  • I am also now closer to understanding that it was not only by Christ’s death on the Cross that we have been saved but by his whole life and works. His passion and death was a culmination of his life and mission.

I believe we could have been saved even without a death on the Cross if we had accepted Him and His message.  But fickle human beings that we are, we may not have accepted his message of ETERNAL LIFE or more importantly, believed in the resurrection from the dead, unless we witnessed it for ourselves.  So his very visible death was for those like me  -like Thomas -who loudly, arrogantly  proclaim that we have to ‘see’ to believe.

The consolation is that He my creator, knows our weaknesses and he gently invites us to probe deeper into Him,  to put our distrusting fingers in his wounds as he responded  to Thomas  … “Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe !! ” 

"You have believed because you have seen.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."  John 20:29

“You have believed because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” John 20:29

And I also believe that His suffering and ignominious death  underscored His fundamental message – the paradox of  ‘death for life’:

 “Most assuredly I say to you … unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:23-25)

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

The Cross underscores the message of giving up to your life to find new life with the Father  “… for what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul?” (Mark..36)   and is thus the ultimate and perfect symbol of :

  • Standing up for truth and justice –  for GOD –  even at cost of your life.
  • Moving away from the things that separate us from goodness and moving towards the source of all goodness
  • Restoring lives created in the image and likeness of God,
  • Exchanging a shallow living for eternal abundant life – DIVINE EXCHANGE .

His detractors thought they could quell his message by his death ….  yet even his death, Jesus’ message was the paradox of LIFE – for he lives amongst us still:

“Saul Saul .. why do you persecute ME”  Acts 9:4

No room for doubt here. He lives amongst his people. 

——————————-

So I found some answers to my question … “Why the Cross?   I can’t say that I have found all the answers, but I have found enough to embrace  – to wrap my arms around, to cling to that precious Cross.

What then of the answer taught in catechism that “he died to save us from our sins” ?

I would respond it is a doctrinal answer given – the wondrous paschal mystery explained in a brief dogma,  until you can find the answer and the meaning of the Cross for yourself.

And when you do, chances are you too will give the same answer  …  for there are few words that can capture the glorious essence of the saving power of the Cross.  

I would like to invite you to share your experience, love and hope in the Cross with other believers to strengthen and help fellow travellers.

Reflections on the Cross of Christ from the early church fathers
What Happened on the Cross, by John Damascene
A Few Drops of Blood Renew the Whole World, by Gregory Nazianzen
What We Behold on the Cross, by Augustine
Contemplating the Lord’s Passion by Leo the Great
The Lamb that was Slain by Melito of Sardis
The Power of the Blood of Christ by John Chrysostom
By One Death and Resurrection the World Was Saved by Basil
The Life-giving Cross of Christ by Theodore the Studite
Let us too glory in the Cross by Augustine
The Cross of Christ by Leo the Great
The Body of Christ Gives Life to Those Who Receive It, by Cyril of Alexandria
The Death of Death by Augustine

Photo credit:  The Cross – divinemercychurch.com.

Doubting Thomas – numerous sites; source unknown.

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