Tuesday Re-mix –
My Eternal King
Original author unknown. Translated from Latin to English by Edward Caswall, 1849.
Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails, the nails and spear,
And manifold disgrace.
Why, then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the hope of winning heav’n,
Or of escaping hell;
Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Not seeking a reward;
But as Thyself hast loved me,
O ever-loving Lord!
E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing;
Solely because Thou art my God,
And my Eternal King.
I have been taking a look at four New Testament conversion experiences: Zaccheus’, Paul’s, Lydia’s and the Philippian jailer’s. It was a Bible study exercise on living a missional life. Having been raised in a denomination with heavy Puritan influences and which is therefore pretty single-mindedly focused on salvation, I am dumbfounded by this observation of these conversion experiences: none of them included any promise of heaven. Here are four of the most well-known conversion experiences in the Bible, and every one of them happened without even discussing heaven or hell or the after-life. All of these people were motivated only by the promise of Spiritual significance, i.e., spiritual meaning now as opposed to eternal life later.
Please do not misunderstand me here. The Bible teaches us about heaven and hell and “after-life” consequences of the choices we make during life. I don’t question that. But I am beginning to question whether our obsession with the promise of heaven is a bit misplaced. Jesus did not attract men and women (and children) to Him with a promise of Heaven after they die. He attracted people with His compassion, His unconditional love, His wisdom way beyond His years, and with His amazing Spiritual authority and power. And He did not call people to “get your fire insurance here”; rather, He simply said “follow me”. And people did.
So, as I ponder what this means to my understanding of “missional living”, I am beginning to see that perhaps dangling heaven in front of folks is not really the gospel Jesus had in mind, or at least not the complete gospel. A calling to follow Christ is a calling to live now in a different way and for a different purpose.
In short, following Jesus is a call to a love relationship for this lifetime (and, it just so happens, for eternity as well).
I’m going to try harder to remember that.
© Blake Coffee
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