100% committed

by Gavin  

100% committed

It’s staggering to think of the sheer commitment to Christ that was shown in previous generations.  My mind is blown by the accounts from church history and missions of the men and women who truly grasped what Jesus meant when He said,:

 

 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34–35, ESV)

 

I have been challenged to think through that this week… in light of last week’s sermon on v34, and again this week as I turned my attention to v 35.  Shew – we live and strive as believers to make our lives and churches and ministries and missions trips as comfortable and easy as we can.  I don’t think (at least, I know I don’t) that we have a clue as to what 100% devotion, sheer abandonment and radical commitment actually looks like.

 

But as I worked yesterday, tidied up today and hit “Print” for the manuscript to come through, my mind was replaying something I’d read… and so I went and looked it up.  I’d just finished typing and editing comments on how we in the modern church (maybe even at Randburg Baptist Church?) are consumed with comfort and ease, and choose to pursue our pleasure and careers and academics in a way that lessens commitment to the Saviour. 

 

And a letter written by Adoniram Judson is a timely reminder.  Judson was the first real American foreign missionary, ministering in Burma (modern day Myanmar).  While preparing for his missions work in Burma, he wrote a letter to his propsective father-in-law asking if he could marry Ann Hasseltine.  This is an excerpt from the letter:

 

I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world ? Whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall resound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?

 

I can’t imagine that being written in 2016…. I am not sure I could pen that so easily.  What if I were the father receiving that?

 

Well, Judson hadn’t finished yet.  Mr Hasseltine granted consent to their marriage.  Judson then sent the following letter to Ann Hasseltine before their marriage on 1st January 1811…

 

It is with the utmost sincerity, and with my whole heart, that I wish you, my love, a happy new year. May it be a year in which your walk will be close with God; your frame calm and serene; and the road that leads you to the Lamb marked with purer light. May it be a year in which you will have more largely the spirit of Christ, be raised above sublunary things, and be willing to be disposed of in this world just as God shall please. As every moment of the year will bring you nearer the end of your pilgrimage, may it bring you nearer to God, and find you more prepared to hail the messenger of death as a deliverer and a friend. And now, since I have begun to wish, I will go on. May this be the year in which you will change your name; in which you will take a final leave of your relatives and native land; in which you will cross the wide ocean, and dwell on the other side of the world, among a heathen people. What a great change will this year probably effect in our lives! How very different will be our situation and employment! If our lives are preserved and our attempt prospered, we shall next new year’s day be in India, and perhaps wish each other a happy new year in the uncouth dialect of Hindostan or Burmah. We shall no more see our kind friends around us, or enjoy the conveniences of civilized life, or go to the house of God with those that keep holy day; but swarthy countenances will everywhere meet our eye, the jargon of an unknown tongue will assail our ears, and we shall witness the assembling of the heathen to celebrate the worship of idol gods. We shall be weary of the world, and wish for wings like a dove, that we may fly away and be at rest. We shall probably experience seasons when we shall be ‘exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. We shall see many dreary, disconsolate hours, and feel a sinking of spirits, anguish of mind, of which now we can form little conception. O, we shall wish to lie down and die. And that time may soon come. One of us may be unable to sustain the heat of the climate and the change of habits; and the other may say, with literal truth, over the grave–

 

‘By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed;

 By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed;

 By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned;’

 

but whether we shall be honoured and mourned by strangers, God only knows. At least, either of us will be certain of one mourner. In view of such scenes shall we not pray with earnestness ‘O for an overcoming faith,’ etc.?”

 

To use a common South Africanism… EISH!  That’s hard-core stuff.  That’s not the anaemic, superficial, “Better Life Now” drivel taught in the modern church, right?  This was an era of truly following Christ – denying self, taking up the cross and following Him with 100% devotion… as Jesus expects all believers to do!

 

Well, did it end well?  Ann Hasseltine married Adoniram Judson on 5th February 5 1812 – 13 months after that letter was written. They left for India (and ultimately Burma) in that same year.

 

Ann never returned.  She died of disease in 1826, after struggling for 21 months with the vigours of missions life – disease, death and loneliness.  Their third child died six months later.

 

But when Adoniram Judson himself died many years later, they left 100 churches in Burma and 8000 Burmese believers. Today Burma (Myanmar) has the 3rd largest number of Baptists worldwide.

 

Methinks we can be shattered and shaped by these testimonies of what it means to heed the call of Jesus Christ himself:

 

“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”” (Mark 8:34–38, ESV)

2 comments

Comment from: Johann [Visitor]
Johann

I also struggled with this same passage when we came to it as I preached through Mark (turning to chapter 16 this coming Lord’s Day). It has stayed with me and I remain troubled by it…
Deny self; take up my cross; follow Him…
Is this not only for “the Adoniram Jadsons"?
No.

08/05/16 @ 01:49 pm
Comment from: Gavin [Member]

Thanks Johann… not just for previous generations to be sure. The Lord’s words remain a clarion call for true believers today… in fact, the acid test of true faith (ie. real Christians) is that total submission to His Lordship - self-denial, sacrifice, total commitment.

Does this remind you somewhat of the journey we had as “Okes” through Platt’s “Radical Together"…????

08/05/16 @ 02:01 pm

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