If you were to scroll through your TV channels, you would see a myriad of survival shows. The locations and situations vary, but each has its own difficult and sometimes potentially life-threatening challenges. Starvation, being eaten alive by bugs, insomnia, and loneliness are among a few of their challenges. In most of these shows, though, the person has only to speak a word, and they can go home. To me this makes it so much more difficult because they have to choose to stay in a horrible situation. It is one thing to survive because you have no choice–it is a totally different thing to persevere when ease is within your grasp.
Related Post: Staying In The Fight
I cannot help but equate this with Jesus’s situation. As God of the universe and unlimited power in His hands, He simply had to say, “No” and the very cosmos would have cooperated. This God/man with every resource available at his fingertips, in the face of unimaginable pain, must choose to go ahead. He must choose to go ahead knowing that even though His sacrifice is more than enough, it will still be rejected by many. He must choose to go ahead knowing that His work is not really ending but is just beginning.
What would it have been like if Jesus just suddenly refused? I can see Him in my mind’s eye standing up, brushing the dust off of His garments and looking up to His Father saying, “I can’t do it.” The greatest story ever told would have become the greatest tragedy we could imagine.
If all creation claps its hands at his arrival, then his departure would rip the world to shreds.
There would be no redemption. There would be no hope that in the end all the suffering and misery of this world would somehow be made right. Darkness would descend and reign forever. I don’t know about you, but this thought makes me consider Christ’s sacrifice in a new light. It would have been way too easy, and ridiculously justified, to walk away. It also makes me consider my own level of sacrifice that I am willing to make.
Choose to Preach the Gospel
St. Francis of Assisi is credited for saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” It’s easy to read this quote and think that means that just being nice is enough. But what is the Gospel message we are meant to proclaim?
This is what Jesus displayed so powerfully in the Garden of Gethsemane and in every step that took Him towards the cross. And in the end, it was his actions and not His words that changed the trajectory of human hope.
And what of our lives? What message do we send? Ironically, it has become far too easy to speak words without backing them up with love. And the world who hears a million voices speaking, always speaking, still looks to see what is real.
The purpose of our words is really only to explain why. Why did Mother Teresa serve the poor in India? What motivation did Hudson Taylor have to live in poverty to reach the Chinese? Why did the couple pursue adoption at great financial cost or the mother pray every day for the salvation of her child? How did the husband have enough strength to nurture and protect his disabled wife? Why did the pastor answer his phone in the middle of the night and rush off to comfort a church member in need?
The reason is that every act of sacrificial love is the Gospel, played out in the myriad of relationships encountered every day. These acts of love, however unnoticed, is the best preaching we can do.