This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Hristo Kulichev (Bulgarian, imprisoned and exiled for almost four years for his faith in Jesus Christ), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)
Many times I was summoned by the police because they didn't allow me to preach the Gospel. When I was arrested the public prosecutor tried every possible way to exert influence on me. Satan used this man to tempt me in many different ways. The man offered me a better job. When I refused to accept it he began to remind me of the difficulties I would have to face in prison. When he realized that I was ready to suffer for God he said: "You seem to be willing to suffer for your faith, but do you realize it will have many consequences for your children also? Your imprisonment will affect all your family and they will suffer because of you. Your daughter won't be allowed to graduate from Sofia University, and your son will not be allowed to finish at the Technical College. And you will be the only reason for that. You will destroy their future." I know parents in my church who ceased coming to church for fear that they might hinder their children's career. I do not blame them. Fear is the strongest tool of Satan to tempt us. Fear for ourselves, fear for our loved ones. Fear, which we hid under the cover of love and care.
I turned to the prosecutor and said: "If I love my family more than God I am not worthy of Him. I am ready to sacrifice anything for my Savior and so disarm Satan."
When we love God with our whole heart, soul and mind, Satan will not be able to enter into our lives. God will enter and take care. He did. My children finished their education and both are now serving the Lord. God not always takes what we sacrifice, but He wants us to be ready to sacrifice everything for Him.
That gives complete and lasting victory.
A moment of introspection: Are we "worthy" of Jesus Christ? There is no way apart from His sacrifice that we can ever be so. Yet Christ "pushed the envelope", as it were, in questioning our worthiness of Himself. We love our family members, father and mother, spouse and children, and even extended family members such as aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Yet Christ asks us to love Him more than we love our family. Love is expressed in many ways; toward Christ, we might love through giving Him our first fruits (Exodus 22:29 - both of our labor and our pre-occupation). We might love through obedience to God through Christ Jesus (John 15:9-11). We might love through devoting our time and talents to serving within His kingdom. We might even show our love through coming to Christ with our labors and burdens, and giving them into His keeping; then we take upon us His yoke and learn from Him (Matthew 11:28-30; Psalm 25:4-5).
What is His yoke into which we voluntarily slip? In His yoke, we have a framework for living--that keeps us attuned to Christ's leadership (via His reins and reign). His yoke is a framework for the accomplishment of Christ's work within this world. His yoke keeps us from straying from Christ's goal, purpose or aim and His divine work in the world today. Christ establishes yoked "teams", knowing the natures of each participant within the "team." (2 Corinthians 6:14) Be aware, though, that individual goals and aims under the yoke, are subordinated to Christ's own intents and goals.
In his journeys, Paul (and Barnabas) traveled out from the young church as it sent out apostles with instructions to spread the gospel, but also to communicate the new church’s desire to lessen the burdens of Christians in the lands to which they traveled--reducing the numbers of burdens that Judaizers had imposed on such new believers (Acts 15:28). With that young Christian body of believers, we leave it up to Christ to reign, to gauge the yoke weight which rests upon our shoulders. He will not burden us with unbearable weights. He alone frees us from the entanglement of being yoked with bondage to the world. We love Christ by obeying Him, as one bearing His yoke. We love Him by spending time in God's Word and learning of Christ. Learn to recognize His call in the bewildering cacophony of life (John 10:1-16) and, hearing His call, accept His yoke. He is meek and lowly of heart; yet He is our very Lord and Savior, Son of God, Creator of all that has been created, the good Shepherd, Name Above all names, etc. Have we surrendered all to Him? Then we know the joy and the freedom of His yoke.
Let us love the One whom the wind and sea obey (Mark 4:41), and the unclean spirits obey (Mark 1:27); likewise, may we desire that the Holy Spirit might remain in us (Acts 5:32)--in and through our obedience. Consider, again, how much we love God and Christ Jesus. Do we give Him the first fruits of our day? Does He direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6) and instruct us in the way we should go (Psalm 32:8)? Do we hide God’s Word in our hearts? Are our lives given over to His Lordship and dominion? Do we love Him more than we do even our own family? Brother Kulichev faced the choices of suffering for God, and being responsible for his own family's suffering. Yet he loved God enough to remain faithful, and thereby to "disarm Satan." All to Jesus, I surrender; all to Him I freely give. "I am ready to sacrifice anything for my Savior..." Those are fighting words. They are also yoked words. "When we love God with our whole heart, soul and mind, Satan will not be able to enter into our lives. God will enter and take care." So...
More love to thee, O Christ, more love to thee!
Hear thou the prayer I make on bended knee;
this is my earnest plea: more love, O Christ, to thee,
more love to thee, more love to thee!