Are Americans being given another chance?

It was 1956. From the steamy jungles of Ecuador, news spread around the world that five young American men were mercilessly killed by members of the Auca tribe (now known as the Waodani)-a people those young men had gone to serve and befriend and ultimately take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to. That seemingly senseless tragedy a half century ago has become an inspirational marvel as that tribe is now friends with the families of those they killed! This is the story of one of those brave torchlighters–Jim Elliott.

jim-elliott

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose”. – Jim Elliott, writing in his personal journal in 1949 while a student at Wheaton College.

As I come to the final months of involvement in the “Year of Saint Paul” emphasis proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, its time to try to come to some conclusions about what I’ve learned. I didn’t lay all this out in the beginning. I had an idea in general where it was heading but I didn’t check the calender for example and see how Easter and Holy Week would be a perfect time to coincide with the great themes of the Apostle. But here we are and I could not have planned a better time to “cut to the chase” as they say about what He was all about.

We’ve shown that he was all about the Gospel- the full Gospel in contrast to the truncated versions so prevalent in America. The one who truly understands the Gospel of Christ as God’s own testimony concerning what He has accomplished for the human race, understands it as a summons from God to His rebellious children to give up their rebellion and be reconciled to their Heavenly Father.

Jim Elliott, just one of the thousands of Christian martyrs of the 20th century, understood the same thing the Apostle Paul did in the 1st century. He understood that by obeying the summons to enter the Kingdom of Christ, he also accepts an obligation to no longer live for his own ego, but for the glory of another. Is this not exactly what Christ told his very first disciples:

If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever losses his life for my sake will find it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

The Apostle Paul, in a real way, represents the second generation of disciples who were given the same summons to follow Christ. Here is how he expressed his reasoning: “For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus- that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

Is it not painfully clear that America has been reminded about just how fleeting the material treasures of our rebellion are and how at any moment they can be evaporated into thin air? Who is the real fool then, the one who insists on keeping his toys or the one who answers the summons to enter the eternal Kingdom with treasures we cannot imagine?

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