Life’s Little Lessons XIX
The Heroic Dimension
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). Three military recruiters showed up to address high school seniors. Each recruiter, representing the Army, Navy, and Marines, was given fifteen minutes to speak. The Army and Navy recruiters got carried away, so when it came time for the Marine to speak, he had just two minutes. He walked up and stood silent for a full sixty seconds, half of his time. Then he said, “I doubt whether there are two or three of you in this room who could even cut it in the Marines, but I want to see those two or three immediately in the dining hall when we are dismissed.” He then took his seat.
Later, when he arrived in the dining hall, he was greeted by a large number of students who were interested in becoming Marines. The recruiter knew that commitment comes from appealing to the heroic dimension in every heart. (By W. Frank Harrington) Likewise, Jesus appeals to the heroic dimension in every heart. Let us deny ourselves, willingly take up our crosses, and follow Him.
“On this rock I will build My church…” (Matt. 16:18). “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1Cor. 1:2). “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus” (1Thes. 2:14). “The churches of Christ greet you” (Rom. 16:16).
It is said that Alexander the Great offered the people of Ephesus all of the spoils of his eastern campaign if they would inscribe his name on the temple of Artemis. However, they refused to do so, stating that the temple had been dedicated to the goddess Artemis. They regarded it as her temple and they would not therefore allow a human name on it, no matter how great the name might be. They reasoned that it would dishonor Artemis if Alexander’s name should be inscribed on the temple. What a rebuke to people of today who place human names on that which they regard as the temple of God! Why attach human names to that which belongs to God and Christ, thereby dishonoring them?
All Roads Lead… Where?
“Then His disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?’ But He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matt. 15:12-13).
I’m always taken aback by anyone who thinks all roads lead to God, that all religions are equally valid. Nobody believes that about anything else. I wonder why anybody believes that about religion. Last summer, I had to have a root canal. It wasn’t as bad as I had been told, but there are more fun ways to spend a summer morning. If my endodontist had said, “You know, Mr. Elzinga, it really doesn’t matter how I do a root canal. Eventually, all roads lead to that problem tooth. I can go directly to the tooth, or I can go in through your ear, or I can go in through your nostril, or I can drill into your neck and work my way back up to that gum,” at that point, I would look for a new oral surgeon! (From Kenneth G. Elzinga)
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:44-46).
Roy Whetstine purchased a stone “from an amateur collector at an Arizona mineral show for $10,000,” according to Newsweek, Nov 24, 1986. It has since been “valued at as high as 2.28 million dollars” and declared to be the world’s largest sapphire. The kingdom of heaven is more valuable than anything else on this earth, and all people should be willing to give up everything to obtain it. The man who discovered the treasure in the field stumbled upon it by accident, but he knew its value when he found it. The merchant was earnestly searching for the pearl of great price and, when he found it, he sold everything so that he could purchase it. Let us truly comprehend the value and worth of the kingdom of God and, if we don’t already have it, do whatever is necessary to obtain it.
Time to Give
“Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matt. 19:21). Marquis de Lafayette was a French general and politician who joined the American Revolution and became a friend of George Washington. An influential man in the U.S. and France, Lafayette was also a man of compassion. The harvest of 1782 was a poor one, but the manager of his estate had filled his barns with wheat. “The bad harvest has raised the price of wheat,” said his manager. “This is the time to sell.” Lafayette thought about the hungry peasants in the villages and replied, “No, this is the time to give.” Real love is often measured by our willingness to let go of what we possess. Sometimes the thing we grip most tightly in our hands is the very thing God asks us to hand over to Him. (From Bible Illustrator)
Protecting Children’s Feet
“Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:4-6).
Years ago, an old woman was noticed to be picking up something in the street in a slum area. The policeman on the beat noticed the woman’s action and watched her very suspiciously. Several times he saw her stoop, pick up something, and hide it in her apron. Finally, he went up to her and with a rough voice and threatening manner demanded, “What are you carrying off in your apron?” The timid woman did not answer at first, whereupon the officer, thinking that she must have found something valuable, threatened her with arrest. The woman opened her apron and revealed a handful of broken glass. “I just thought I would like to take it out of the way of the children’s feet,” she said. Oh, how we need people like this timid little woman who cared about what hurts “children’s feet.” (From Illustrations Unlimited by James S. Hewett, p. 328)
Mark 10:13-14 says, “Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”