Archive for the ‘Great Rescue’ category

Mother Teresa’s “Dark Night of the Soul”

August 28, 2007

I know far too little about Mother Teresa. I have no pronouncements to make about the state of her soul. I cannot see around or through or under or beyond her crises of faith. God surely can.

I do know that true, faithful saints can experience long dark nights. Though the cry “Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22) was ultimately owned and redeemed by Jesus Christ, it was a true Davidic expression.

But in all the discussion and debate I have read over the last few days I have two other concerns; both of which point, I believe, to our tendency towards self-righteousness or gracelessness. The first concern has already been discussed many times: there is the loud cry of many that Mother Teresa must have been a true Christian, because look at all the amazing self-sacrificing work she did.

Forget about how this relates to any particular individual, including Mother Teresa. Simply look with me at where that statement points. We are pointing at her work. Her labor. Her sacrifice. Her earnestness.

Her merit.

The Gospel points us to Christ’s work, Christ’s sacrifice, Christ’s merit. There is a great difference.

Jesus told us to “let your light so shine before men that they may see your good work and glorify your Father who is heaven”. So we do draw attention to our deeds (they see our good work). Well, then, how do they glorify our Father, and not us, for the good work? There must be words accompanying our workings, words full of the gospel, words full of how our work is a response to his work, how our faith is a response to his Promise, how our fruit is the fruit of the cross and the resurrection and the hope brought to birth and life in Jesus Christ. If, at the end of our lives people are amazed at our endless self-sacrifice and pouring out of ourselves for others, and this what they see and talk about… we will have failed the gospel.

The second concern is perhaps even more serious: there is a tendency in us — if we are honest — to rejoice in the weakness and failings of others. There are some that are quick to draw attention to this soul-struggle that is highlighted, and to say, “I told you so.” We spend our lives comparing and contrasting our standing with that of others. Pastors look at other pastors leading bigger churches and having a “more successful” ministry, and privately think “I’m actually better than he is, if only I had an opportunity to preach to thousands, they would know that. But I face evil opposition instead. My people don’t realize how blessed they are.” And with that mindset, we actually have inner rejoicing when that “more successful” pastor is caught in a scandal. “See, I knew I was better all along. Now maybe my people will appreciate me more.” Others must fall if we are to be raised. And our masks and robes must be carefully worn so that the status we have achieved is not defaced or lessened.

Our merit must be recognized.

I know all too well of what I speak.  It’s the idolatry that has run amok in my own life and soul, causing so much destruction; the idolatry that still visits far too often.

It is Pharisaism, pride, and self-righteousness.

Our people need to appreciate Jesus more. His merit. His grace. Not us, not me, not you…and not any other saint. And there is no joy in the sorrows of others. The fact that Mother Teresa struggled in her faith says nothing about the quality, for good or ill, of our own doctrine or the positioning of our ministry. Do those who encounter our ministry encounter the God of mighty works who defeats all our idols and draws all our love? This is the question for us.

Draw attention to the gospel, to the God who is with us in Jesus Christ. Draw out the redemption, the Rescue, that is achieved for souls in darkness when Christ calls from the cross, “Why are you so far from saving me?” and thus achieves for his people the sure hope that they are heard, they cannot be forsaken, they are transplanted into the kingdom of light.

Praise Jesus!

Jesus Storybook

August 6, 2007

I’ve got quite a few books, but one of my all-time favorites is this one… and I admit it’s aimed at a slightly younger market 🙂

jesus-storybook-bible.jpg

It’s “The Jesus Storybook Bible” written by Sally Lloyd-Jones, and she really “gets it”. As she says, “every story whispers His name”. We read this at home and my wife and I are constantly as delighted as our daughter is. If you want a very quick primer on Christ-centered, gospel-centered Scripture, get this book.

Until then, here’s one of our favorite portions, reprinted here with the kind permission of both Sally and Zondervan (author and publisher). It’s the book of Isaiah distilled into one letter. I think it’s amazing. Enjoy!

Title: Operation Rescue

Dear Little Flock,

You’re all wandering away from me, like sheep in an open field. You have always been running away from me. And now you’re lost. You can’t find your way back.

But I can’t stop loving you. I will come to find you. So I am sending you a Shepherd to look after you and love you. To carry you home to me.

You’ve been stumbling around, like people in a dark room. But into the darkness, a bright Light will shine! It will chase away all the shadows, like sunshine.

A little baby will be born. A Royal Son. His mommy will be a young girl who doesn’t have a husband. His name will be Emmanuel, which means “God has come to live with us.” He is one of King David’s children’s chidren’s children. The Prince of Peace.

Yes, Someone is going to come and rescue you! But he won’t be who anyone expects.

He will be a King! But he won’t live in a palace. And he won’t have lots of money. He will be poor. And he will be a servant. But this King will heal the whole world.

He will be a Hero! He will fight for his people, and rescue them from their enemies. But he won’t have big armies, and he won’t fight with swords.

He will make the blind see, he will make the lame leap like a deer! He will make everything the way it was always meant to be.

But people will hate him, and they won’t listen to him. He will be like a Lamb – he will suffer and die.

It’s the Secret Rescue Plan we made – from before the beginning of the world!

It’s the only way to get you back.

But he won’t stay dead – I will make him alive again!

And, one day, when he comes back to rule forever, the mountains and trees will dance and sing for joy! The earth will shout out loud! His fame will fill the whole earth – as the waters cover the sea! Everything sad will come untrue. Even death is going to die! And he will wipe away every tear from every eye.

Yes, the Rescuer will come. Look for him. Watch for him. Wait for him. He will come!

I promise.

 

From “The Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones, pp.146-149