Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. -Song of Solomon 8:6
Jesus Christ the Son of God took up His cross and approached death, pouring out His soul to the glory of the Father, knowing that in His death He accomplished an eternal purpose far beyond what His life could accomplish. His love was stronger than death; it was the very flame of the LORD consuming our sin and our punishment at the cost of torture, death and the agony of the Father’s rejection. In Mark 8:34 Jesus issued a prophetic call to follow Him into this love that is stronger than death, taking up our cross, the instrument of our own torture and death, and follow Him to the place of our own death and resurrection. We are called to exit this world system, to not love our own lives even unto death (Rev 12:11), but to love the life of Christ to such a degree that His image and the image of his death is pressed upon our souls (Phil 3:10).
In Acts 1:8 Jesus promises His followers power to be witnesses through the Holy Spirit. This word “witness” is the Greek word “martos,” a word that soon came to mean martyr as the church faced the persecution and opposition of the world and the enemy. The Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost in a mighty rushing wind. Suddenly, secret believers were flooding the streets proclaiming the glory of God and Christ in languages they had never learned. They made themselves public targets, they were willing to be made fools, they were willing to speak, to fight, to give, to sing, to dance. They were filled with a new Spirit. It was this powerful Spirit of love that compelled Stephen to fix His eyes on the King of Glory, forgive His attackers and die for his faith. He saw and believed the truth that there was greater glory in eternity for being obedient unto death than for preserving himself to minister another day. He understood the Ephesians 3:10 mystery that God’s purpose for the church is an eternal display of wisdom to the rulers and authorities in spiritual realms. It is not about this world. There is a system of spiritual and eternal value so far beyond our understanding and our tiny world: so far beyond what we see. One day it all will be opened to us when Jesus calls us into His glory. In that place those who did not count their lives dear unto themselves will find their witness and their martyrdom, in life or in lifestyle, rewarded in the never-ending love and intimacy of the everlasting God.
The desire of my heart is to give back to the LORD a love as strong as death. In spite of the danger, the risk and the sheer cost of this immersion in the Person of Christ, I fight to know true devotion, to risk all of myself, lay down my own life, surrender all to the LORD and find it all and more in His presence and love. Nothing less will do. Nothing less will give God the glory He deserves. He valued us so much that He gave His Son, shed His precious blood and overcame the grave. If Jesus Christ is the Son of God then no sacrifice is too great. The eternal son stripped Himself of His heavenly glory and came down, humbled as a man, a servant, a slave, to give His life for our eternal redemption. His heart cries out that we follow in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21).
Read the whole November 2011 Newsletter here.