Who You Gonna’Serve?

Who You Gonna’ Serve?

by Jane Tawel

February 20, 2016

 

These days there is a lot of discussion about the religion of Mohammad. My alma mater is buzzing about whether Muslims do in fact worship the same God that Jews and Christians worship.  I find this hilarious in some equally sad ways, since if you study the history of any of these religions but especially of the founder of Islam, Mohammad, then you get a pretty clear idea that they don’t really want to claim that they worship the same God– unless it works in their favor. Human nature, of course. That’s why these three religions fight each other. But if you step away from religion and try to find God or true Truth, then you can look not only outside yourself but inside your own soul. It is helpful to read Jesus’ words to both the Pharisees and the pagans. It might be helpful to read stories about people who just wanted to get into a closer relationship with Elohim, genus God, Creator, and YHWH, the God of his chosen people, and Jesus, only begotten Son of God. Motivation matters. It really does. Just ask the Holy Spirit. LOL.

See here’s the thing. As I read through the Bible, study theology, pray, worship, fellowship, I ask myself frankly: Do most people who claim Christianity worship the “One True God”? Do I ???? One of the  most sobering stories in the New Testament is the one Jesus tells about  judgment day  when God says to those who claimed His name, “I never knew you.”

Matthew 7: 21 – 23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

The will of the Father. You have to know the Father, to know His will. From the story of Eden, to the Song of Solomon to the parables of Jesus about the bride and bridegroom, humans are called, nay, required to be in intimate relationship with the One True God. We were created to function best in intimate worshipful relationship to our Creator. Verse after verse in the revealed Holy Word of the Only God states over and over, “there is no one like our God”. Jeremiah, Psalms, Philippians, the words of Jesus who says, “I come to do the will of the Father.”  Jacob wrestles with God, Moses communes for weeks on a mountain with God, Mary magnifies God, Jesus goes away again and again from  everyone to be with His Father. The word “know” in scripture is often the same word for sexual intercourse.  To know someone as completely as you possibly can. To be one with them — one body, one mind, one heart, one soul. To know – to be obsessed — to know is to truly love and worship One God. Imagine — a God that wants to be known. A God that wants to know me but leaves it up to me to decide — do I want to walk in the Garden daily with God, knowing Him better and better, more intimately than I know myself?

As the famous sermon by S.M. Lockridge asks, “Do you know Him?”

Bonhoeffer warned us quite a while ago about the dangers of cheap grace and like a Walmart economy where the rich get richer and poor poorer, we have so cheapened the value of our eternal souls that it is no wonder we want to offer others the cheap love we have settled for.   The cheap grace.The cheap me. The cheap god.

Since The Fall we have refused to understand that the Accuser will use the good things of God, like our poor understanding of love, to convince us that pride is not a sin. The question is: Who is on the throne of my life? Christ wants to be more than our buddy, He wants to be our King. He is the King who came to redeem the world from evil and death because only God could do it.  Ephesians 6: 12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  As another great prophet whose name in this world, is Bob Dylan, sang, “You gonna’ have to serve somebody.”  Who you gonna’ serve?

We live in a world that believes in the power of the individual and that you can accomplish any dream you want to accomplish and that you deserve to feel good because you are you.  This load of lies has infected the world with the worst disease there is, a disease of false pride and lies about the way the world really works, and this disease of pride and sin always leads to death — the eternal death of the soul.  Only one God can save us. The God of the Bible, the God of His Chosen People, the God of Jesus. Do you know Him? Do you know His dreams for you and for His world? Do I long more than any thing for others, no matter who or where, to know the love and salvation of my God?

Do you know the God– as best we can ever know Him this side of the veil– that is revealed through The only Holy Scriptures and the Only Holy Son? Period. End stop. Either Christ is at the center — Israel –Christ– The Church — all circles flowing out, concentric, joined, ever widening circles from the Center, “the way the Truth and the light” — joined with God come to earth to His people in YHWH , in Christ — either at the center of my life or He is not. Each minute of my life is in fact a challenge to “Day by day.. see Him more clearly, love Him more dearly and follow him more nearly. Day by day.”(Godspell) Lord have mercy, on me a sinner.

When all is said and done, it is not what I call myself, it is what I call Him. Do I call Him King of the Universe? King of my life? Savior. Lord. I Am.

Someday He will come to judge the living and the dead, and all nations shall bow at His feet. He will know –no matter how falsely  we judged each other– whether we in fact knew and served Him  in the truth revealed to us. We will enter a new creation or not — beginning now, fulfilled at the end of time– and  no matter how we come to hear about Him, we are only redeemed by whether or not we know Him and He knows us. If you are a visual learner, regard Calvary and the blood that was shed for us.

For a great historical  and theological paradigm shift on this, read as I am, N.T. Wright’s Simply Jesus. Studying history  as objectively as possible through the lens of the Judeo -Christian worldview, can help quite a lot too with looking truth in the face. Jesus was pretty clear about who He was and what He came to do, to “those who had / have ears” to hear. We must unashamedly know what we believe and then ask daily and humbly as the great saints have and as Frances Schaeffer famously quipped, “How shall we then live?” No matter how rich, how powerful, how humble, how needy, how religious you are, you’re gonna’ serve somebody.  Don’t leave it til the End, to figure out who you really serve. And on a happy note — I have found today gets a lot better and clearer and more peaceful and joyful, if I with extreme humility, try to serve the One True God in some faltering way, step by step starting here, starting now. Today is a great day to serve the One True Somebody. Become a Nobody in the One Body –given for us, alive in us.

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Might be a rock’n’ roll adict prancing on the stage
Might have money and drugs at your commands, women in a cage
You may be a business man or some high degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a state trooper, you might be an young turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody’s landlord you might even own banks.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be working in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may call me Terry, you may call me Jimmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say.

You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

 

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Ash Wednesday from 2015

ash wed

 

I thought I might post this again, to remind myself to pray for those truly suffering throughout the world for the cause of Christ.  My silly first world self is embarrassed even to post this.  But I wanted to remind myself as I celebrate Ash Wednesday and what has become a very meaningful church day for me, that there are many who cannot worship in freedom or truth but who still do. There are those who still suffer for the sake of telling others about a King of kings and Lord of lords, about a Messiah for the world, a Savior, He who suffered, was crucified, buried and risen on the third day, who will come again and make all things new. Long ago in a midwestern galaxy far, far away, I memorized this as a sort of “life verse”  Galations 2:20:  For I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live.  Yet not I but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”  “Happy” Ash Wednesday!

Ash Wednesday 2015

Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I can’t put words together well today. Every time I try to think about any thing about the endless irritating meeting today or the fight I had with my child or how old I look these days. I think of the families of these 21 men:

  1. Milad Makeen Zaky
  2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
  3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
  4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
  5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
  6. Bishoy Astafanus Karnel
  7.  Somaily Astafanus Karnel
  8.  Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
  9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
  10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
  11. Mina Fayez Aziz
  12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
  13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
  14. Samuel Alham Wilson
  15. Worker from Awr village
  16.  Ezat Bishri Naseef
  17. Loqa Nagaty
  18. Gaber Munir Adly
  19. Esam Badir Samir
  20.  Malak Farag Abram
  21.  Sarneh Salah Faruq

Since seeing their names on Monday after their martyrdom Sunday February 15, 2015, I have been going down the list holding each name and each name’s family in prayer. These are my brothers in Christ who took up His cross in the realest way possible. These are my fellow humans who went to a dangerous country because they wanted work – a job – a way to bring food to their families. For bread, they embodied Christ’s body, the Bread of Life.

The one I can’t stop thinking about is “Worker from Awr village”. Did he refuse to give his name because he feared for his family if a name was given? Or did they simply not bother to find out his name? What is his secret name now, the name that Christ hands him written on a white stone?

The ones I cannot pray for, and God forgive me, but I can’t are the executioners who are as much in need of Light and Life as any of us. I managed a small little thought for them this morning on my 5:00 am jog – God help my violently angry unbelief. I felt some grief for those who kill others. But I just cannot focus on my “real life” today. I couldn’t jog today because tears kept blurring the pavement so I walked carefully, like there were hidden bombs.

I went to All Saint’s for early Lenten service. I’m sure they thought I was crying for something in my personal life—I couldn’t seem to stop. I thankfully saved myself from saying, “I am crying for the 21 Egyptian martyrs.” Thankful because I do not even deserve to mourn them, in my dress and boots and jacket, and my stomach turning from going one stupid day without gorging on food, and the beautiful well cared for church, and driving away in my Prius, off to a job in an office – Oh, God, how can I even claim your Son as my Lord when my offering is nothing compared to the world’s martyrs?

My cheap tears offered up on Ash Wednesday for the mothers of martyrs. My easy pride laid down next to the poorness of spirit –the heart – ache –of the fathers of the 21 martyrs. My worries about safety blasted to smithereens by the dangerous world my brothers and sisters live in daily so that they can eat. My old face staring back accusingly with my head wobbling still on my scrawny old neck while 21 families see in their hearts’ eyes the heads of their loved ones lying in the dirt. My paltry prayers for my four children as weak as kittens next to the Lion of Judah alive in these great saints.

My cheap grace – surely God would forgive me if I denied Him? Isn’t my life more important than the Truth? My Walmart Grace.

What is it like to be like Kara and Casey and Malak and Bishoy and Worker from Anw Village and untold others throughout history who love Jesus enough to lay down their lives?

I tried to explain my grief today to someone who told me, “Stop, I can’t think about that. I won’t be able to go on working if I let myself think about that.”

We should not be able to go on.

We should not be able to go on as if nothing has changed.

We should let every thing change in us.

Twenty-one. 21. Plus. Plus. Plus. Plus. Each day, across a “civilized”, “evolved” world, a human soul murders another human soul. Souls kill themselves with darkness and souls die because they will not deny the Light. Someone chooses death rather than The Life. Someone chooses Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Someone dies because he or she will not deny the Lord. They are all souls. All souls. All saints. All created by The Word. All making choices that mean life or death. But we are still not understanding which ones died when the 21 were martyred and which ones lived — eternally. Twenty-one truly lived. Twenty-one died to live again. Twenty-one now truly and really live. Resurrected. Living with The Christ they love. And their families weep and weep and weep. And the families of the murderers weep, and weep and weep. Do I know what it is to die to Christ, so that “yet I may live”?  My life was bought at great price but I live it so cheaply.

I have no words for my shame and my ignorance.

I have no words for a grief that should fill the whole world.

I am only thankful for this day, Ash Wednesday, to “mourn with those who mourn”.

Oh, God, forgive me for thinking I am worthy to someday stand near them and rejoice with them. I am too afraid to even pray to be made worthy.

Forgive me. Help me. Accept my cheap tears. Hear our prayers.

Amen.