Thursday, April 19, 2012

Reasonable Service

For my personal Bible study, it’s not likely you’ll see me whipping out the King James Version. However, Romans 12:1, in this version, came to light in a mailing from the Christian Law Association, which defends Christian liberty.

I find the term reasonable service interesting to ponder as I consider where and how to serve inside and outside of the church. Some translations of Romans 12:1 describe this service or worship as intelligent, logical, or appropriate, others spiritual. All of those make sense, too.

Still, reasonable service is proving itself sticky, for me.

What’s reasonable to give back to the God who gives me life again and again every day? What's reasonable service to the One who gave me my husband, children, family, friends, health, and a peace that passes all understanding?

He’s the God who made everything and called it good. But after that, he didn’t just step back to watch. He’s involved. Even when we (or, ahem, I) mess everything up, start to finish. He’s wants me, and you, us. What’s reasonable to give back to a God like that?

The CLA newsletter shared a story about a Russian family (pre-liberation) whose daughters were tortured because their dad wouldn't give up pastoring, and he wouldn't deny Christ.

The three oldest daughters were singled out, but said later what happened to them was, in fact, their reasonable service. Seriously?

You can read the article here:

What a strong, worshipful perspective for those daughters, now young women, to have.

I've heard commentary jokes in the Christian community about our fickle nature as followers of Christ. The joke (with a message) that comes to mind for me related to this story from Russia is, the trouble with living sacrifices is that they crawl off the altar.

These three, even as young girls, stayed on the altar. And, in terms of the condition of their hearts, they don’t look back with regret.

Probably, I won’t endure the conditions of persecution these daughters did. But I hope when I feel pressed or struck down with opposition, the Holy Spirit gently lights my heart and mind for His glory with this story, Romans 12:1, and the phrase reasonable service in particular.

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©2012 Helene Bergren All rights reserved

Friday, April 6, 2012

Joseph of Arimathea

I want to be like Joseph of Arimathea.

“Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.” Luke 23:50-53 NIV

Joseph of Arimathea. Loyal to Christ in being a dissenter to the decision to crucify Him. A man who looked forward to the kingdom of God, Jesus’ reign. A risk taker, as seeking Jesus’ body could further polarize him from the other members of the Council, make it clear where he stood on the issue of Jesus, the problem of Jesus. A man who loved Jesus enough to tend to His body, respectfully, a true act of worship.

Good Friday brings good reason to reflect on this example of worship and love. John 19:38 shows us Joseph indeed feared the Jewish leaders, and certainly requested Christ’s body at risk, because of his fear of the other Jewish leaders. He went secretly to Pilate to make the request. Matthew 27:57 shows us, he was a wealthy man, but Joseph humbled himself and asked for something apparently more important to him than position.

Looking at this man’s actions, and heart, as revealed in the Bible, I thought about what a faithful follower he was. I wondered why the phrase faithful followers came to my mind, so I looked it up on I learned that I’ve not only heard it before, but also I’ve certainly read it before.

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings — and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.  Rev. 17:14 NIV

Joseph of Arimathea will be with Jesus Christ in triumph, along with all of us who are “His called, chosen and faithful followers.” What a moment of honor and victory that will be.

On Good Friday, I reflect on the danger following Christ held for Joseph of Arimathea, and others. I reflect on the sadness, and my responsibility for Christ’s death.

I know a day lies ahead when Christ vanquishes Satan. For now, I want to nurture examples, ancient and modern, like Joseph of Arimathea. And I look ahead to celebrate Resurrection Sunday, Easter. 

©2012 Helene Bergren All Rights Reserved.