Saturday, July 15, 2023

What are you living for?

Jim Elliot was a boy who loved Jesus. He knew Christ from an early age and was never afraid to speak about Him to his friends. One day a friend of his parents asked him if he was going to be a preacher when he grew up. ‘I don’t know,’ Jim replied. ‘But I would like to tell someone about Jesus, that never heard of Him before!’ And that is just what happened.
When Jim grew up, he and his wife Betty (Elizabeth) were missionaries in Ecuador, where there were several different tribes of Indians living in the jungle. Some of them were being taught by missionaries already whilst others had never heard of Jesus. One of these tribes was a violent and murderous tribe called Aucas who had never had any contact with the outside world. They were great hunters of wild pigs, monkeys, and jaguars with their spears and bows and arrows. 

These Auca Indians always went barefoot and could recognize another person’s footprint like we recognize the faces of our friends!  But the Aucas didn’t know about Jesus. Their lives were dark and sad and full of fear. If they saw anyone in the jungle who was not of their tribe, they would sneak up and kill them with their spears. They also speared each other, killing their own friends and relatives during the slightest quarrel. When a man killed another man, the family of the dead man would hunt for the killer and spear him too. Often parents killed their own children, just because they were tired of taking care of them. Everyone was always afraid of being suddenly killed! That is how people live, when they don’t know anything about Jesus or God’s laws or how to be kind.

Jim wanted to bring the gospel to them so he devised a plan which was called Operation Auca. Besides him and his wife, his team consisted of four more missionary couples. The men discovered the first Auca huts with the help of a missionary jungle pilot and the first attempt to contact them was by plane. They would fly around the camp shouting friendship words in the Auca language through a loudspeaker and dropping down gifts in a basket. Encouraged by this progress, after three to four months of gift dropping, they decided to make a base on the Curray River. After they had set up shelter, they eventually made contact with the Aucas. After a little persuasion, they were able to convince some to come into their camp. Encouraged by this visit, the men felt that it was time to go in and try to minister to them.

One morning, after numerous songs of praise and considerable prayer, the men radioed their wives saying that they were going to go into the village and would radio them again later. ‘Operation Auca’ was under way. The next day, a group of twenty or thirty Aucas went to Palm Beach and the missionaries flew into action straightening up their camp. Little did these five men know that this would be their last few hours of life. The last radio contact they made was Jim calling his wife saying, “We’ll call you back in three hours.” Jim Elliot’s body was found down stream with three others. Their bodies had been brutally pierced with spears and hacked by machetes.

After Jim’s death, his wife, her daughter and another of the missionary's sisters moved to work with the Auca Indians. The love of Christ shown through their forgiveness allowed them to have amazing success with the once murderous Indians. Jim’s life was not a waste, in fact, God used his death to bring life through salvation to many Aucas and encouragement and inspiration to thousands of people worldwide.

So, Operation Auca didn't end there. Many Aucas became Christians, they are now a friendly tribe and missionaries still live among the Aucas today. Elisabeth Elliot even helped make a movie about Operation Auca called ‘Through Gates of Splendour’. It showed real life scenes of the five missionaries on the beach with the friendly Aucas. It also included footage of the two years she and her daughter spent living in an Auca village. During his life, Jim Elliot longed for more people to become missionaries. In his death, however, he probably inspired more people to go to other countries to share the love of Jesus than he ever could have in life.

His most famous quote is this – ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose’. What does this statement mean? It has often been explained as – your life is going to run out, in other words we are all dying people. Because we will die, if you are just living for your own pleasure now you are not investing in anything of lasting value. Whereas if you live to serve the Lord Jesus Christ then you are investing in something of lasting value and what you do in this life will have an impact in the next i.e. heaven. The scripture says, ‘the things that are seen are temporary and the things that are unseen are eternal,’ 2. Cor. 4. 18.

All of the above explanation is true once you are a Christian. But good living and high moral actions cannot change your character. We are all defective by nature (the Bible defines humans as sinners – Rom. 3. 23; 5. 12) and so the best behaviour in the world will not change our nature.
The truth is we need a change and God can change us if we are prepared to trust Him. He is our creator and originally created us in His image. We turned away from Him and sinned against Him the consequence of which is seen all around us – hurt, pain, suffering, injustice, global defective issues, war, economic crisis and so on. Sin has not just got a spiritual/moral effect – it has affected every dimension of life on earth. And sin has long term effects – it separates us from God in life (and the peace, joy, purpose, meaning etc that we long for) and it potentially separates us from all of that and more in the next life because fallen beings cannot co-exist with God in heaven.

So, what’s the answer. The answer is not found in a theory, a lifestyle change or a moral framework. 

The answer is all wrapped in a person – Jesus.

The Bible focuses entirely on the solution that is a person – Jesus.

1 Corinthians chapter 15 verses 3 and 4 give a clear summary of what the Lord Jesus Christ did to make the change possible. It says, ‘For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures’.

So, let’s go back to Jim Elliott’s famous saying – ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose’. He based this statement on the words of the Lord Jesus in Mark chapter eight – ‘And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels’, Mark 8:34-38.

As I close please note two things:

1.   What Jesus did to provide salvation, eternal life and the change of living and values that come through following Him. All based on the statements from 1 Corinthians 15:

                                             i.     He died for our sins
                                           ii.     He was buried 
                                         iii.     He came back to life on the third day

2.   Then note what we have to do to benefit from what He has done for us:

                                             i.     Deny self 
                                           ii.     Condemn your old self to death
                                         iii.     Follow Jesus

What the Lord Jesus in effect is saying is that to become a Christian you need to understand that you are finished with your past, to see His death as paying for the wrong in your life and to follow Him.

That is the key to life. Sins forgiven, guilt gone, peace in, joy in, purpose in living and enjoying life through the grace and forgiveness of God.

My prayer is that you will be blessed in this way, today.

No comments

Blogger Template Created by pipdig