dinsdag 21 oktober 2014

A living Jesus.... for a dead religion

One Sunday in a desperate, almost rebellious frame of mind I went to church.
The struggle in my heart became almost unbearable. 
I was so unhappy, something had to happen or I could not go on.
Dr. Stanley Jones was the preacher. 
He read his text.
“Whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it”. 
My heart cried out, “Oh, no, not that! I do not want to lose my life. 
"I want to live!" 
"I want happiness and beautiful things and friends." 
"I want gaiety and popularity and a good time."
"I want life!” 

Having been born and brought up in a missionary family where spiritual values were more highly esteemed than any other thing, I kept my faith unquestioned until I went to college in America. There I was assailed by many doubts. Nothing could shake my belief in God. My parents fulfilled His conditions and were secure in His love and faithfulness, but this had nothing to do with me; I had to taste life; I had to find out for myself.

The nice outside....
After graduation my one desire was to get back to India. I like it there. I loved the mountains, the people, the happy life I had always known. I wanted to write. I would travel, I would live! …But in India something was wrong, very wrong. Meetings, conferences, retreats, prayers—I was surrounded with them. I had to teach Sunday school, lead a young peoples’ group, take devotions, give testimonies, answer those in difficulties. This I had not bargained for. I managed to struggle along for some time, knowing a bit of the technique. 

but inside a deep longing for sin
But what was first empty and meaningless became bitterness and filled me with contempt and rebellion…. Then I realized that everything I really wanted was out of my reach. I wanted fun; I wanted a good time in my own way. I would hear the orchestra playing dance music at the club and waves of misery swept over me. That was what I wanted, and as a missionary I was debarred. What a rigid and barren life was being imposed on me! At Language School I met many wonderful young people whom I admired, but they all seemed so sure of their call; their religion meant something to them. I pitied them in my heart for being so simple—or was it that I envied them?

....that's leads to an unbearable battle inside!
One Sunday in a desperate, almost rebellious, frame of mind I went to church, the struggle in my heart being almost unbearable. I was so unhappy something had to happen or I could not go on. Dr. Stanley Jones was the preacher. He read his text, “Whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25, K.J.V.). My heart cried out, “Oh, no, not that! I do not want to lose my life. I want to live! I want happiness and beautiful things and friends. I want gaiety and popularity and a good time. I want life!” A sadness which seemed about to crush the breath out of my body engulfed me. How unfair, how cruel, how crazy—to ask me to give up life when it was the one thing I longed for—life with its music, its colour, its fun!

"The emptiness pulls and Your fullness beckons! Oh God, what do I do?"

Giving up my life? 
I listened to the sermon. Step by step the way was explained; the logic was irrefutable; the paradox seemed unanswerable, so maddeningly convincing, and yet I was unwilling to accept it. It was impossible for me to give up my life whatever the promises. Then the last hymn was announced: “When I survey the wondrous cross.” My eyes skimmed down over the verses. Then something like panic seized me. There was a line coming which I could not sing. Nothing could make me sing that—I would die if I had to. The second stanza began; the first line, then the second line—it was coming nearer; what should I do? How could I give up everything? It was asking too much. “O God,” I cried in my heart, “what shall I do?”

The intervention of the Holy Spirit! 

Then moved by some power not of myself, I managed to sing inaudibly, “All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.” It was done! Everything was gone. At that moment life seemed drained of everything. It was complete and utter emptiness. There was nothing left. But at that very moment, almost simultaneously, came an overwhelming sense of breathless joy. It seemed that I would be swept off my feet so great was the infilling, the glory. Christ Himself flooded my heart, overwhelmed me with love. In a flash it was plain—this was life, this abundance, this joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Are you also lifeless and religious?
When you read this testimony, are you feeling exactly like that young woman from the 50s of the last century? And do you live as she lived like

- a decent Christian life without God?
- on the technique, but deep down you wish to serve the world?
- with a strong desire to be rid of that straitjacket of religion?
- with deep inside rebellious that you just cannot live in sin and served the world?
- willing to quit and squeezing in between?

Would you actually still go to church, to catechises but is your religion so empty and lifeless, so dead? Do you make yourself angry to the real children of God? Don't you loathe from your own piety? Would not you rather put your ministry down and just be free?

Would not you rather get divorced and live in sexual sin with the other one? Would not you rather wear other clothes and just show up more sexy? You think "they should know my inner longings"? Would not you like to live your life to the fullest but feel so captive? You are so locked between the heavy call of God's Spirit and the pulling of the world of evil?

Jesus still beckons ...
- when the temptations overwhelmed you and you are almost to collapse,
- if the technique is not sufficient to hold that Christian life without God,
- when the sweet power of the temptations flooded you constantly,
- if you got almost mad of fighting and you hardly can any more,
- if you're tired to keep up appearances and
if you deep, deep down know that this life is not real life ....

Come than to Jesus!
Come and put an end to the hopeless battle you will lose!
Come and hoist the white flag and put your hands up!
Come to Christ and surrender!
Come and let you pull through God's mercies Whose loves you with an everlasting love!
Come as you now hear his voice, harden not your not but be guided now!
Come now is the time!

Background
This impressive testimony comes from a young missionary from India in the years 1950-1960. Steve Gallagher has recorded in his book "Standing Firm Through The Great Apostasy." He uses this example from the book 'Conversion' from Stanley Jones to the lifeless and dead church and religious "Christians" to call for true repentance. With permission from Steve Gallagher, I use this testimony of that young Indian missionary taken from his book.

Proposal
Wrestling no longer in your own power the hopeless religious battle but surrender to Jesus. You may contact me via my mail address: levendenstromendwater@gmail.com. Written by Evangelist Cees van Beek