do we weep?

After the death of Lazarus, Jesus was brought to his tomb by Mary and Martha, women that Jesus cared for deeply. As you can imagine, Mary and Martha were weeping and mourning the loss of their dear brother, and Scripture tells us that Jesus was deeply moved by this event. Many puffed-up religious leaders watched as Jesus let go of his composure and wept with the sisters, and it was evident to them that Jesus genuinely loved these people. We understand the depth to which He cared when we read that Jesus wept for this loss. He understood their pain. He identified with their suffering. He longed to love and care for them. John the gospel writer tells us more than once in chapter 11 that Jesus was deeply moved for the people–moved so much that He exercised his divine power to resurrect Lazarus from the dead. Jesus demonstrated His tremendous love and mercy through this event, and He wasn’t popular for it.

He wept. He wasn’t merely moved to feel pity or sympathy, but Jesus entered into the pain of Mary and Martha, felt their heartache as if it was His own. And it was. He loved Lazarus with the same love He has for us– a love that wishes to resurrect us from the death in our sin. His heart broke for the people in John 11, and later in John 19 His blood was shed and His entire body was broken for us.

Yet so often as Christians we live with hardened hearts. We slather on coats of jargon, judgement, and self-righteousness that act as a lacquer, sealing our hearts from entering into the brokenness of others. This is why sometimes people stop listening to us as soon as they discover we’re Christians. Because they’ve seen this before: Christians who don’t care. Christians who just judge. Christians who only want to tell me how bad I am. People stop listening to us as soon as they see that we don’t care for them. They don’t share with us because we’re not heartbroken–we are screaming about the specks in their eyes as if they don’t already know about them, while the planks blind our own eyes. And of course this is not hard and fast, but so many of my non-Christian friends have expressed this sort of feeling: no love, no care.

And maybe that’s because we’re often motivated by the wrong thing. Jesus was motivated by a genuine love for others. Love that chose the cross. Love that meant sacrificing Himself entirely. Love that covered all of the “badness” we could ever have in the depths of our hearts. Love that covers murder. Love that covers lying. Love that covers adultery. No iniquity is too bad for Jesus to forgive. He took care of them all. Why? Because His heart broke for us and with us. We can become caught up in “converting” or “saving” people in our own strength, when we need to weep with them. We need to weep for them. 

Evangelist John Fuder once said, “It’s the scandal of an unbroken heart that impedes ministry.” And to say it’s a scandal couldn’t be more correct. If our ministry is severely lacking in love, grace, and a willingness to be broken alongside our neighbours then we will never succeed in demonstrating the love of Christ to them. If we don’t show the grace Christ lavishes upon us or the love He poured out for us on the cross, then we misrepresent Christ. We misrepresent Christ when we remain hardened and judgemental. We misrepresent Christ when we care more about church rules and church attendance than about souls.

So I ask: do you weep? Do you weep for the souls of your neighbours? Do you weep for their situations and for their pain? Do you weep with them when they’re brokenhearted? Or are you motivated by self-righteousness, legalism, and judgement? Because if you don’t weep, if you’re not motivated by Christ-like love, then you have nothing. As the letter to the Corinthians tells us, if we have not love we are nothing, we have nothing, and we gain nothing. 

well done

I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I often find myself gravitating towards the writings and wisdom of certain individuals. I love reading poems by the same poets, books by the same author–once I find someone who can speak to my soul, I cling to everything they have in print and glean from it whatever I can. This has been the way I have been with the work of Elisabeth Elliot–who had the privilege of returning home to her Saviour this morning at the age of 88.

I can hardly read the story of Jim Elliot and his untimely death in the Ecuadorian jungle without balling. That faith, that unshakeable conviction, challenges me to my very core. Would I die for what I believe? Would I literally spend myself so that others could have a chance to know about Jesus? But what gets to me the most is the way his wife Elisabeth carried on after him. The way she rose from her grief and set out for the jungle, and served the very men who murdered her husband. That kind of strength is beyond my understanding. When the world would have told her to harbour bitterness and resentment, she followed the example of Jesus and loved to the very end of herself.

And today Heaven rejoices to gain the presence of Elisabeth Elliot, and we are left with her wisdom, her testimony, and her incredible challenge to live up to the Spirit that is in us as Christians. No other couple has spurred me on in my journey as a missionary more than Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, and I can only hope to leave a fraction of the legacy they have left for us.

“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

And my oh my, how faithful she was.