Dress Rehearsal

I’ve been mesmerized by Jesus lately. I hung out with Him in the book of John where I marveled at His words, was surprised and delighted by His miracles, and challenged by His life. Especially this:

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12). It sounds so simple. The great paradox of the Christ-following life of love is its simplicity and it complexity. It is never easy to love. It seldom comes naturally. Yet, Jesus said we are to love others in the same manner as He has lavished love on us.

Think about that. Jesus sacrificed. I am to sacrifice too.

Jesus washed the disciple’s feet–even His betrayers. I am to wash others’ feet too.

Jesus willingly suffered on my behalf. I am to willingly suffer on someone else’s behalf.

So, what does this mean? I have felt lately that I’ve written too ethereally, that I’ve shoveled doctrine without sharing the trenches of my life. The truth is, I fail to love. Sometimes I ignore my children. I place my own selfishness above the my need to repent and admit failure. I am not a perfect daughter, mother, wife, friend, missionary. I fail. And usually that failure is a failure to love others.

Two days ago, I read the words of one of my favorite people: K.P. Yohannan, the President of Gospel for Asia. Let his words challenge and minister to you:

“The number one reason for leaving the mission field is not death threats from an anti-Christian community or lack of funds, but personal relationship conflicts.” Ouch. I wonder if this same problem accounts for the numbers of folks leaving full-time ministry.

K.P.’s response to this sad statistic is this: “It seems our hearts are no longer tender toward God, our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ or our spouses and families. At the center of each of these relationship problems is our unwillingness to humble ourselves and take responsibility for our sin. Instead, we fight and manipulate others to protect our spiritual self-image.”

Wow. I fear there are days (weeks, months!) where I am more interested in protecting my spiritual self-image than I am in repenting and examining my impure motives and lack of love. I am more in love with my spiritual persona than I am in loving the person across from me who may be hard to love.

Here’s K.P.’s solution: “If your heart is cold, your eyes are dry and you long for the Lord to restore you to a tender heart, let me pass on the advice a dear brother once gave our pastors in India: ‘Once in awhile it is good for you to have a dress rehearsal of the day when you will stand before the Lord.'”

This world is full of heaven-evasion tactics, distracting me from reality. Someday I will stand before Jesus and give an account for this life. Will I have loved? Will I have laid down my will for the sake of another? Will I have served? Will I have told the truth even when it meant great personal pain? Will I have said I was sorry? I hope and pray I answer yes–that my dress rehearsal for eternity will be consistent with the actual day I stand before Jesus.

All I can say is this. It’s all about grace. It’s only by grace. Because Jesus loved me, I can love. Because He modeled sacrifice, I can, through the Holy Spirit within me, model sacrifice. Because He offered me radical grace, I can extend it to those around me. What a gift He has given.

I hope I don’t take it too lightly by not sharing it.

(Quotes taken from “Five Minutes with K.P.,” by K. P. Yohannan, Send! Gospel for Asia News Magazine, First quarter 2005, p. 23.)

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