This is our final week of training and we are so eager to enter Taiwan at the end of the week. We truly appreciate & depend on your prayers as we make this final move to Taiwan.
Each day in Asia seemed to move slower than back home in the U.S. and yet 3 weeks have flown by so quickly. I guess that’s how life is. Before you know it, it’s behind you.
Life is often taken from us. We may not be comfortable with that statement, but it’s true. The recent airline accidents should force us to face this reality. Other contexts echo the same message that our lives can be disrupted by almost anything & be demanded. This is why we plan, take precautions & pursue a healthful lifestyle, so that we can somewhat protect ourselves from becoming victims of the thievery of the worst kind.
But life isn’t always abruptly or unexpectedly interrupted because sometimes it can happen in slow motion like in a terminal illness. Foresight doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
The bottom line is we do not like anyone or anything messing with our lives.
This is why in life & literature man fights against another man, battles nature & even goes up against gods to protect what he believes to be his.
Then enters JESUS
He proclaims a mind boggling message.
It’s mind boggling because rather than to protect & preserve our lives He calls us to GIVE THEM UP ON OUR OWN when we don’t have to. Then He takes it a step further & says our motivation for giving up our lives has to be not self love/glorification, but love for others. In our consumer minded world, the question that everyone’s dying to ask is, “Then how do we win or benefit from such transaction?”
As I have mentioned earlier, our greatest anxiety is the fear of loss. We fear losing our place in line, losing our status, wealth, health, losing our face, etc. But what if we take that variable out of the equation by letting go of what we are afraid of losing? Because we can’t lose what we have already laid down if we have truly given it up.
Philippians 2:6-8 explains how Jesus became a servant & how He became obedient to death, even death on the cross. That’s something that we ourselves wouldn’t do, not because of pain, but more so because of our pride. We wouldn’t mind being a righteous martyr, but our pride wouldn’t allow us to be seen as a total failure & a despised criminal.
But the reason why Jesus was able to surrender to humiliation & death was because He has already given up His life. V. 7 explains that Jesus “made Himself nothing.”
“Nothing” is a frightening word in our world. We all desire to be somebody. We want to have something important or intelligent to say. We want someone to love & be loved. We want to possess something that speaks of who we are & what we have achieved.
“Nothing” is a scary word, but there lies a paradox that sets us free to live fearlessly in this world.
Let me explain.
I have to say that the most encouraging thing about being here at OMF headquarters is the dedicated servant leaders who have laid everything down at the start to follow Jesus Christ, and who have made themselves “nothing” for His kingdom although “nothing” they are not. They are all quite extraordinary.
Our General Director & his wife have both given up their medical practices to serve in Pakistan as OMF medical missionaries since 1989 & starting December of 2005, they have been leading our organization. But one of the things that impacted my heart was when they invited us new missionaries to their home, which was a small flat (apartment), I couldn’t help but to notice their humble, modest & simple lifestyle.
Another couple who are directors of personnel have worked in Africa and Cambodia providing medical care to lepers. They too live in a small flat.
What I am trying to say is that although these servants may seem to have “nothing,” if you spend even a little time with them, it becomes crystal clear that they possess EVERYTHING IN CHRIST.
I understand what Paul meant when he said, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).”
There’s an old movie titled Fearless. It’s about a man played by Jeff Bridges who was in a plane that was making an emergency landing. He was terrified. So at one point as the plane was going down, he tells himself that it is the moment of his death so that he wouldn’t fear dying. He then gets out of his seat & starts helping people who are in a state of panic because he in his mind was already dead. Miraculously the plane survives the landing, but his decision to die earlier continues. And because he has already died to himself, he goes on living fearlessly…
It’s a movie I know, but what if this is how we actually live as followers of Christ, putting death to ourselves daily so that only Christ in us may live & shine.
I want all of us to live in that realm where we have lost all things, and yet possess everything, and where our nothingness means that Christ becomes greater.
I have shared Jim Elliot’s quote before, but I want to share it with you once again.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”