Sunday, May 29, 2011

Serious times: The finale

Sometimes I wake up early and occasionally I wake up very early. Today is one of those days. Every now and again you read a book and as you are reading it you think of people you would like to give it away to in the hope that they will read it too. I do that rather a lot with books and I am sure most of them remain unread on the bookshelves and bedside tables of those I give them to.

Why did Serious times make my pulse race? Well, it's because it is a book about how to have a significant life. A life that is called, a life that sacrifices and a life that makes an impact. Who doesn't want a life like that? I have a burden for such lives because my own life languished and, in so very many ways still languishes, in ineffectiveness in its response to the gospel. I long for my life and those lives I pray for and try to encourage to be gripped with a single-minded abandonment to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

How does this happen? Perhaps there is no better way to tell you than to share the final story Emery Wright puts at the end of his book. It seems to say it all.

"In July of 1854 the notorious Sheffield criminal Charlie Peace was taken from Armley Jail in Leeds, England, to be hung. As was custom, a ceremony on his behalf was performed by an Anglican priest just before his execution. A priest would walk behind the man condemned to death reading aloud from the Prayer Book. Such matters had become routine, performed ritually and often without feeling. These were the words that were read: "Those who die without Christ experience hell, which is the pain of forever dying without the release which death can bring"

Such words falling upon the ears of a condemned man on his way to death and offered with such a startling lack of emotion, caused Pearce to stop, turn around to the priest, and ask, "What are you reading?"

"The Consolation of Religion, " replied the priest.

"Do you believe that?"

The priest was taken aback, but after collecting himself, said, "Well......I..... suppose I do"

Then Peace is recorded to have said, "Sir, if I believed what you and the church.......say you believe about heaven and hell-even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be on my hands and knees, and think it a worthwhile living just to save one soul from eternal hell like that.'

The urgency and needed passion was clear to a nonbeliever. Is it clear to us? God is alive and well and has spoken his truth into the world. He has stopped at nothing, including the sacrifice of his own Son, to draw the world back to himself. He calls his followers to this grand and glorious mission because it is a cause that is more than worth dying for.

It is a cause worth living for"

If you haven't listened to this yet now might be a good time.

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