In his last post, John was writing about the pain of the growing lawlessness that is increasing everyday, an evil that we meet close in, and will meet in ever-greater measure. Christ warned us of a cold heart.
Hey folks, you all are so right about crossing that line into playing God. I know that leap into the presumption of flesh all too well. We all are chastened by that presumption. Shall I say yesterday?
But that is not what John is addressing.
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:16
I watched John live in a situation where he was used and abused. He didn’t try to change the person nor even address it. He kept saying to me, “God has called me to love so I have to stay. I can’t do anything.” And he did remain there for a long, long time, under great suffering and sacrifice, loss of peace, time, productivity, and his soul was discouraged much of the time.
John stayed, not for the purpose to change the person. He knew that he had no power and no right to do that. No, God had given John for that person’s salvation, and he was there ONLY to please God and stay in His will. Whenever I wanted him to confront or leave or make a stand, he would just say, “I can’t do anything. I love her,” and I would be struck silent.
In the process, God’s love in the vessel called John was a personal dying – yes, of Jesus’ dying. But I assure you, John was experiencing and living that pain with and in union with Jesus. He was laying down his life for that person, dying with Jesus. He was sharing the sufferings of Christ. It was a calling not a crusade. God commits us to a person and we cannot get out of that assignment without losing Him.
The reproaches of those who reproach Thee
have fallen upon me.
Psalm 69:9 NASB
He suffered a daily bombardment to his soul and his value. When Christ lays down His life, using my life, to die for someone, I am inside that dying. I am dying there. It is not some figurative ideal that Jesus does all the dying. I am caught in His love, for His purpose, and I am involved in the dying in Him and very much with Him. Deeply involved.
That I may so share His sufferings
as to be continually transformed
[in spirit into His likeness even] to His death
Philippians 3:10 Amplified
I was curious about that word “share.” It is koinoina! The word we know as Christian fellowship. It means communion and participation. We are actually sharing His sufferings, and my part of that suffering is my own dying to
- my resistance to this calling,
- my struggle to accept the injustice and the pain,
- my own dying to MY WAY and MY rights.
In Christ laying down His life to die again, I also die until I am made willing to die for another.
Jesus’ suffering is my suffering…inside His specific will, inside His vast unfailing Love for awful humanity. But that is how we come to know Him, and by dying with His scorn from humanity, we are changed into His likeness.
P.S. By the way, let me tell you the “rest of the story.” This person, so adored by God, became our most delightful, loving gift from God—Miss Jennifer!