Here it is, then. The Hard Truth, at last. The call to do what is necessary to be transformed, equip every piece of the the armor of YHWH, and use it for the purpose for which it was made: to love, trust, and obey the One who forged it *first*, and then use it to give ourselves to the fight for the souls of men and women, showing them what is the only way to escape judgment and death, and receive mercy and life.
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Matthew 10:34 The Master saw that there would be contention with anyone that chooses to embrace the world rather than God, no matter who they think they are or what title they apply to themselves; that the conflict would even be within one's own family. The poison of non-Biblical teaching has steadily seeped into the church like a potent disease, and it can be seen how the disease will ultimately overcome the host, as all diseases with the power to kill run their course when left untreated. We are then discouraged, when people are lead to the cure from eternal death, and they refuse to receive it, because to receive it will force them to be changed, and change begets pain, and we will go to any length, enter any deception, to avoid pain and suffering. I feel that same urge in my own marrow.
I see, now. THIS is why the Lord admonishes us over and over throughout the gospels to keep watch, stay alert, be ready... why Paul went on to say the same thing and added that we are to take courage, or (quit ourselves like men). We are to be sentinels of light within a world of darkness that will hate us for the truth we embrace. We are to watch the movements of the enemy and report *accurately* of them no matter who they are, and most importantly, show those who are caught in the "trappings of religion" the truth by the way we live and teach, and let them *see* the Christ living in us, and by that grace receive the gift of repentance and salvation.
This telling of the truth, unafraid, to the established power base of religion at the time, was the catalyst that wrought Jesus' death, and can just as easily bring about our own. At the very least, it will expose us to persecution. Presenting the truth, when acceptance of it ends the gravy train for people who preen their pride in disobedience of the Lord rather than cast it down in *submission* to the Lord, will mean stirring up what lives within people who do not own the peace of God in their hearts, who do not hold the Lord to be Master of themselves... it will stir up those whom the Lord Himself gave over to the corruption within their own minds, because they did not acknowledge the Lord or submit to Him.
HERE, at last, is "take up your cross". I see it as clearly as my own reflection.
My heart is in my throat.
Yet will I take courage, trust in the Lord, and quit myself like men. This is our purpose for breathing, and all other priorities, even those which would wound me forever me were I to lose them, like my wife and children, are second to this. Tears blind my eyes at the thought even as I write this. But the truth is, when I am stripped of everything, as was Job, I came into this world naked, and naked I will leave it. It is the Lord that gives, and it is the Lord that takes away what is given. Every breath I would be forced to take without them would be wracked with what passes through me at this moment multiplied 100 fold, yet to shrink from it to save them would be sin. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" Matthew 10:37
This verse convicts me. My human flesh, this husband and father of 3, weeps for myself at the thought of having to choose between the frail, at times faithless, yet relative safety of those whom I love, and all that which may happen from service to God, just as I weep whenever I read Job, or learn of suffering like that which he endured. At the door of such suffering, having not been forced to enter and with knees that quake at the thought amidst blinding tears, I will trust God anyway. I will pray that such a cup passes from me, yet I would have God's will over my own, even if it means I must be shattered and broken. He is the Potter, and I am but a broken vessel. I will take whatever sustenance the Lord sees fit to give me, because without Him I am nothing anyhow.
Some corner of my brain has rationalized this in the midst of my abject fear, in that the marks of time which will ultimately be written on my headstone are in truth less than the amount of time it takes to feel a breath of wind pass across my face; to be faithless to the purpose that supplies life and eternity makes even that fleeting existence UTTERLY POINTLESS AND WITHOUT ANY WORTH. We are to watch for the coming of the Lord, for either in judgment, or in mercy, we *will* meet Him.
God bless and strengthen you, Cyril, Elder Brother, servant of God, for stepping forward into the breach, acquitting yourself like men, and showing me, your younger brother, to trust the Lord, place my foundation upon the truth of the Word, and stand at your shoulder. May the strength and comfort of the Holy Spirit, the Intercessor, be upon you and I and all that stand in obedience of the truth in the face of worldly consequence.
So be it.