We’re currently working our way through Romans on Sunday mornings. This week we poured over chapter 9, and it poured over us. The discussion was challenging and I keep thinking about one part of it in particular…
… I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to flesh.
I was struck. Paul’s heart was in unceasing anguish. Why? Because he LONGED so DEEPLY for others to believe, to know Christ and salvation, that he wished that HE could take their place being “accursed and cut off from Christ.” What does that mean? That means – Paul longed for the salvation of others so deeply that he would have gone to hell for them if he could and if that would have helped. (He knew it couldn’t help. Only Jesus can substitute as the recipient of our deserved wrath, but he was willing/LONGING.)
I want to see others come to know Jesus. I really really really do. But how badly? How often have I ever longed so desperately that I wished I could go to hell for those who don’t know Him?
We live in such a trivial world… a world that gets caught up in a lot of things that DO – NOT – MATTER! Do we, followers, live lives adapted to this trivial world? Does this sneak into our spiritual lives? Do we invite this attitude into our spiritual lives? Or do we dig in deep and follow the narrow path? Do we choose daily to die so that He can live through us – so that others may live? Or do we cling dearly to our lives and give Him only sections of it when it’s convenient?
What if THIS – Paul’s depth of burden – is why God used Paul so greatly? What if it’s hard for God to deeply bless a person/a church that is only 1 inch deep? And what if we are too close to being 1 inch deep and not close enough to having a burden like Paul’s?
So the questions of the week is: How can I/WE go deeper? How can we cultivate the LONGING for others to know Christ the way Paul did? How can our hearts know this unceasing anguish?