August 10, 2020

Surrendering To His Teeth

He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.

(Psalm 91:15,16 NIV)

It was turning out to be one of the hardest days in what was the hardest year of my life. One day in the spring of last year I was coming undone. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually I was at an end. Where was God?

I had spent the morning pouring out my heart over coffee with my friend and colleague Matt. I had then called my friend and colleague Laree and yelled at her for an hour on the phone. Now it was my friend and colleague and fellow iMonk Adam’s turn. (It’s amazing to me I still have any friends or colleagues…)

I saw Adam at our church and dragged him into our prayer room. There I began my lament once again.

“Adam, right here in Psalm 91 it says God will be with me in my day of trouble. Well, today is my day of trouble. Where is he?”

Adam, whose patience is matched only by Job’s, looked at me and said, “I’d give up on him if I were you, Jeff. Obviously he hasn’t come through for you. Who needs a god like that? Now who will you trust? You? How has that worked so far?”

I wasn’t about to be so easily put off. “But God is coming at me in ways I don’t think he could or should,” I said.

“Jeff,” said Adam, “just who the [heck] are you to tell God how he can or can’t approach you?” The word Adam used in place of “heck” was not “hell.” It was the shortened version of “firetruck.” I was starting to calm down, but I wasn’t quite finished.

“Adam, my will is surrendered to God’s will.”

“I know it is, Jeff,” he said. “I know you have surrendered your will to him. But have you surrendered to his teeth?”

And that question has haunted me ever since.

Am I surrendered to his teeth?

For 36 years up to that point I had faithfully, or as faithfully as I could, kept Jesus at a safe distance by keeping his commandments best as I could. By going to church, by being nice and good. Oh I was good. I kept my anger in check and always tried to do the right thing in the appropriate way. And I never would have used the short version of “firetruck” like Adam did. I used my goodness and my good works as a way to keep Jesus at bay. I had forgotten that he is the Great Lion, the Lion of Judah. I had made him into a tame kitty cat, and I set out a saucer of milk called “good works” to keep him happy.

Was I surrendered to his teeth?

Have you ever seen those wildlife shows where the lion kills and eats a water buffalo or such? Like this one. (Warning. This is not for the faint of heart.)

Some kitty cat, huh? How is it that I have for so long made the King of the Beasts into a domesticated cat? How is it that I have allowed myself to think if I would just scratch him behind his ears a couple of times a day he would be happy with me, rub up against my legs, purr, and all would be well?

Was I surrendered to his teeth?

A lion’s teeth are meant for some serious ripping and tearing. They are made to separate meat from bone. If I am going to submit myself to the Lion’s teeth, he is not just going to give me a gentle nick, not even breaking the skin. He is going to devour me bit by bit. I have spent much of my life avoiding just such a confrontation. I hid behind a host of things a good Christian is supposed to do. And it worked—for a time. Three-plus years ago, though, the Lion began to force his way into my life. First came a word shared in my church by iMonk Joe Spann that he titled Dangerous God. I went away that day shaking. If God indeed was dangerous, then was he really just a kitten? I spent much of last year looking into the jaws of the Lion, but still avoiding them. Surrendered to his teeth? But that meant … death. Not just a wound. Not even just a deep cut. Giving myself to the teeth of the Lion would mean the end of me.

The. End. Of. Me.

And that is when I began to see that that was precisely what he wanted. The end of me. The end of my goodness. The end of my righteousness. He wanted me dead. Not dying. Dead.

For only what is dead can be resurrected.

Surrender to his teeth.

I was exhausted spiritually. I couldn’t run any longer. He had me surrounded. I couldn’t avoid him. Here he came, with those horrible fangs, looking at me with hunger in his eyes. As he drew near he said to me, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” I had heard that many times, yes. Only now did I understand the the only way I could come to him was through his mighty jaws. And that the rest he wanted to give me was “rest in peace.” As in my death.

So I surrendered to his teeth. I let him devour me. It takes faith in his goodness to do this. It takes trust not in my ability to please him with my efforts, but in what he has already done for me. I lay down and didn’t fight any longer. He had me. I was dead.

And yet. And yet, I now live. The life I live now, however, is not by my will or by my choice. (Oh I know you are going to go to town on that statement. But before you start in on me, ask yourself, What choice did Lazarus have in rising from the dead?) I am in him. I am dead, and the life you see me living is the Lion living his life through me. How can I describe it? I was dead, but now live. It was through nothing I had done. It had to be the Lion’s doing. But what do I now fear? Once you have been eaten alive by a lion, most of the cares of the world are laughable to you. How can any day be worse than the day you were eaten alive by a lion? It’s all downhill after that.

So, here I am. I am dead, having given myself to the teeth of the Lion of Judah. “I am the resurrection and the life,” said Jesus. “Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” I believe in him. And I did die. I remember and embrace that death daily. In a way, I die all over again every day. And in doing so, I now know Jesus not only as my death, but also as my life. He has resurrected me, for I am in him, and he himself is resurrection and is life. Yes, I die daily, but in another way I will never die again. Death no longer has anything on me. I live in death, and death has been vanquished by the Light of Life.

I still face my day of trouble. But now I face it not as a foe of the Lion, but as one who has been eaten by the Lion. Now I am on his side. That day cannot stand against his coming. He will satisfy me with long life, as long as his, for I am in him.

Surrender to his teeth. Do it now. Don’t make him chase you, surround you, jump on you and drag you down. He will do that, you  know. He will do it because he loves you so much.

Are you surrendered to his teeth?

Comments

  1. I don’t know what to say, as I sit here knowing that God has spoken to me. Thank you.

  2. I am sitting here just smiling because for six months the lion has been gnashing his teeth. What you wrote is exactly what is happening to me. I was thinking today all of the weird promises I have made to God over the years thinking that I would impress him with my holiness not to mention impressing all of my discipleship leaders and friends. It has been the most exhausting and terrifying 12 years. I have had to keep struggles and doubts inside because I had to keep the “I’m a good little Christian girl who is happy happy happy” facade up all the time. Six months ago I quit. I stopped pretending and began to think maybe I could just let that lion eat me up. (I didn’t use those exact words) but, you get the idea:) So, here I am and have no clue what is to happen next. I just want death (not in the morbid sense) but, just saying ok Lion gobble me on up. I have no clue what is going to happen but, if you are already dead it doesn’t really matter:) I have given up on trying to “get” everything right and be the most moral person in the room just so I can “feel” righteous. Blah. I am finally getting what Jesus said when he tells us that his burden is light. When your dead, you can’t carry anything. Someone else is carrying you.

    • Bravo, Robin. You have said it better than I could…

    • I have had to keep struggles and doubts inside because I had to keep the “I’m a good little Christian girl who is happy happy happy” facade up all the time. Six months ago I quit.

      That’s me, too, Robin. Only I am still in the process of quitting … do they make a patch for these sorts of things? 🙂

      • My path has been similar to Robin’s and I stopped pretending, too. But I must warn you, especially as a woman, if you stop pretending, you may find yourself very alone. The Church does not like women who are not happy-happy-happy. Oh, they don’t tell you that in so many words, but all of a sudden, at least in my case, life just got a lot lonelier.

        I had not gone around with a long face or a list of complaints, but I had told a couple of key friends of my struggles and my doubts in what I thought were dear-friend-to-dear-friend conversations, of the confidential kind (not that I had much to share as my life is pretty vanilla). I am blessed with a happy, loving 29-year-marriage and am the mother of three well-adjusted sons who love God. The kinds of things I shared were more along the lines of my exhaustion in trying to please God, doubts that I had struggled with nearly all of my Christian life, and just that I felt like God was far away. I thought these were pretty common Christian experiences. Apparently, they were very scary and threatening experiences.

        One of my few confidants was my home church leader’s (kind of the same as a pastor in a regular church) wife, who had been my walking partner for several years. All of a sudden she had no time to walk with me any more. As in, she never walked with me one time after that. Another “dear” friend that I had shared and been a little vulnerable with all of a sudden was so busy she couldn’t grab a cup-o-joe any more, as had been our regular habit for five years.

        As disappointing as all of this is, I actually feel like I’m in a much more authentic place now, with more authentic friends (though fewer). I enjoy my few Christian friends and my family and am who am, for better or for worse. I miss church, but not that much.

      • Joe,
        you say that you are still in the process, well I say me too. I recently have heard someone say “the old Adam is a good swimmer” and we need to be drowned daily.
        There should be a group called failing Christians Anonymous or maybe I’m admitting I’m dead anonymous. Of course imonk definitely is a group similar to this:) I recently read a book “What the church can learn from AA.” I was reading this thinking “I would be better off in being in AA than sitting in my church pew. That is a problem.
        Also, I have recently begun reading a devotion called “To Live with Christ” by Bo Gertz. Part of the devotion today was so spot on with this topic. A portion of todays says

        “This is how the Christian life should be. The Christian should decrease. In the beginning you think you should grow, constantly feeling stronger, purer, wiser, and better, but the opposite often happens. You begin to distrust yourself and your own resources. You see how much weakness, cowardice, and selfishness still remains, but you receive a confidence in Jesus. You learn to trust all the more in Him, his Word, in His faithfulness and help in the vicissitudes of life.”

        This is a picture of the lion ripping us to shreads for our benefit.

        • Wow – thanks for the Gertz quote, it certainly rings true of my journey. I wish more of my pastors (of various evangelical churches) had prepared me/us for this reality. All I have ever heard preached is that I “should grow constantly (becoming) stronger, purer, wiser, better.” Implying that if my life doesn’t evidence this growth & fruit, then I am not remaining in the Vine and not walking right with God. This perception has caused me to struggle with fear that I’m disappointing God, doubts about my salvation, wondering if the Holy Spirit has withdrawn His presence from me because I’m unfaithful, etc. Deep down, I believe Jesus won’t cast me off, but He feels distant these days … maybe that’s part of His loving strategy to get this Good Girl completely broken and remade for His glory.

  3. great post jeff – i don’t think there are many christians in the world who have never needed/will need to go through something like this

  4. Galatians 2:20 – “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

    Sometimes this is so hard to fathom and/or accept though. Why do we fight so hard to live/keep our lives instead of His?

    “remember Lot’s wife” – Don’t look back!!

    As a new reader, I have greatly profitted from this website Jeff. Thank you all.

  5. I have been reading here for about a week. This is my first time to comment. I get it Jeff! I really do get it! From a prodigal’s sense, not a self-rightesous one. And my journey started 3+ years ago too. When I read that in your writing I was thrilled! Knowing the Lion has been busy bearing His teeth and unloading His grace on others in that time frame makes me know without a doubt that I’m smaller than I tend to think. *smile*

    Having lived in and of the world for nearly 30 years, there was and continues to be A LOT of dying to be done. It all started out of desperation because my self lived life was so deep in the muck and the mire there was no light left. Having left the “church” in my early teens because I didn’t trust a thing another Christian did or said and because I conceived God the Father to be a God that bails on you (as my earthly father did and he was a pastor), so I figured I’d be safe and be the first to bail. Not throwing away my belief that a God existed, but you get the jist. So it has been the ripping apart all the old habits that I learned in the world and throwing away all the misconceptions I’ve had of Him. Old habits die hard, as they say, and I wouldn’t have stuck in there this long if it weren’t for Him proving all my false notions and religious ideas wrong. He’s just that cool!

    Thank you for allowing the Lion to bare down on your life. And then being courageous enough to share it with us here. I for one am not, nor have I ever been, interested in those who have always done it right (or tried to fake it) and tell you about it. I am more apt to listen to those who have fallen, broken, and found the Light in forgiveness, humility, mercy and grace.

    So…….thank you Jeff!

  6. Jeff, this reminds me so much of what another online friend has been going through after both the failure of his missional church plant and a simultaneous period of long unemployment of his other day job. He called it “the agony of unrequited faith”. I think he’s been referenced on iMonk before, but here’s the link, as it is brutally honest and powerful: http://pastoralia.org/church/missional-postmortem-some-personal-struggles

  7. I’ve been chewed up & spit out as a great big Lion hair ball more than once. Recenly was 4th of July weekend 2009. And the 15 months after…

    It seems most of my Christian journey a continuous chewing. Then swallowed. Urped up again. And the chewing resumes…

    Lord, how reckless Your mercy…

    Kiss the Son
    Kevin Prosch

    Lyrics:
    When you’ve been broken, broken to pieces.
    And Your heart begins to faint
    ’cause you don’t understand.
    And when there is nothing to rake from the ashes.
    And you can’t even walk
    onto the fields of praise.

    But I bow down and kiss the Son.
    Oh, and I bow down and kiss the Son.

    Let the praise of the Lord be in my mouth.
    Let the praise of the Lord be in my mouth.

    Well, though You slay me, I will trust You, Lord.
    Well, though You slay me, I will trust You, Lord.
    Though You slay me, I will trust You, Lord.
    Though You slay me, I will trust You, Lord.

    When the rock falls, falls upon you.
    And you get ground to dust
    no music for your pain.
    You open the windows, the windows of heaven.
    And then You opened me
    and You crushed me like a rose.

  8. Ethan Magness says

    Thank you a good hard word. I didn’t watch the video. I am not sure I could bear the spiritual implications.

  9. Galatians 2:20 was my favorite verse from the time of my salvation over thiry years ago. But I only died with the teeth sunk in deep about seven years ago. I also learned that the lion is always hungry.

  10. Wow. “Surrender to his teeth.” That’s a phrase that sticks!

    Okay, so what about those of us who are afraid to “surrender to his teeth”? I see the need, the argument is fantastic, even the bit about Lazarus not having a choice in being brought back to life is pertinent. But “firetruck” if this isn’t “firetrucking” scary!!!

    • Oh, and as a follow-on to my “fear”…

      If you watch the video, and think about the whole cycle of life, how many creatures willingly let themselves be eaten? None. In the video, not one of the animals goes down without a fight. None of them flop over, belly up, with a “go ahead and eat me” attitude. Any species with a “surrender to the teeth” instinct would be extinct in a very short time.

      So this “surrender to his teeth” attitude is totally against human nature, animal nature, plant nature; anything that has life, it’s against nature to roll over and be eaten.

      • And thus what makes this so firetrucking hard for us, huh?

        • LOL. Indeed, Jeff. And I do appreciate your essay, despite my fears about what you’re suggesting. Very profound and thought-provoking. Fortunately, we have Christ as our ultimate, supreme example of “surrendering to the teeth.” Obedient to God, He was, even to death.

  11. “Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh and trotted across to the Lion. ‘Please,’ she said, ‘you’re so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I’d sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.’ ” –C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

    My surrender to His teeth began this year, and I have a dear friend who is still struggling in His jaws. Scary? Dang skippy! But I pray for the strength to die. Thanks, Jeff — this was good stuff!

  12. Jeff,

    2 nights ago I was crying out to God…..And I believe you post just may be his answer to me.

  13. Matthew Peak says

    This reminds me of the Clive Barker short story “The Last Illusion” in which a woman is devoured by a lion. Not quite the same purpose, but the vivid imagery sticks.

    I have always liked the imagery of Jesus as a lion, fierce and determined, clear in His purpose, unswayed by the opinions of others. While not wanting to sound sexist, I wish more Christian men would stop trying to live as Christian men and instead die so they could live like Jesus, King of Beasts (wink).

    Perhaps it is education or commercial interests or political power or too much Dr. Phil (jn), but something has neutered the Big Cats in the church and men are running like Gazelle instead of feeding like Lions

    The world is in need of some teeth.

    • Matthew Peak says

      Of course, in this imagry, do we say as Jesus is the roaring lion, Christians are little lambs? Are we, as Paul says in Romans, sheep for the slaughter? Some churches say yes. Some church say no, we are more than conquerers.

      • We are both, Matthew. But we can only be more than conquerers by being devoured by the Lion. The Christian walk is a great paradox, and when we think we have things figured out, it only means we don’t…

  14. Great post. I’m reminded of a story G.K. Chesterton wrote in which he describes a hero in an adventure story as not being a hero because he is eaten by cannibals; but instead, he is a hero because he makes himself available to be eaten.

    That’s the essence of following Jesus, isn’t it? Making oneself available to be eaten…first losing parts of yourself you never imagined in the refining fires of God, then laying yourself at the mercy of the culture that will most assuredly attempt to devour you.

    Jesus will most certainly ruin your life, if you follow Him wholeheartedly. In the words of an old friend “Jesus is messin’ me up, man!”

  15. Jeff,
    I believe you’re correct and want this for myself, but what about those of us who feel like we’re just going through the motions? What about those of us who don’t feel transformed?

    • I think it starts with grabbing a good friend and telling them how God has let you down, how he is not transforming you, how he is not meeting you in your time of need. And, if this is a really good friend, then he or she will tell you, like Adam told me, to quit. Just quit.

      And then, as you lie there wondering what you will do next, you will hear the soft, padded footsteps of a Lion approaching…

  16. “Do you not know that all of us who HAVE BEEN BAPTIZED into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”

    (Romans 6:3)

    Our sinful self was put to death just as Christ, who had taken unto Himself the sin of the world (including all of yours and mine), was put to death.

    And yet, we are also raised with Christ. Who does this? Us? No way! God does this. He actually does something in Basptism. He actually…now get this…BAPTIZES us!
    Baptism is not some silly, religious ritual where nothing actually happens. Jesus would never command such a empty ritual. If He commands it, you can be sure that He is actually doing something in it.

    I know, I know, this doesn’t sound rational, or reasonable. That’s the best part! God takes this whole business out of our hands and takes it upon Himself. He does the same thing in the Lord’s Supper.

    We just hate that. We want to have some role in all of this. We’ll a big God is able to do it all by Himself.

    Thank you very much.

    • What role did Lazarus play in rising from the dead? Only this: He died. Oh yeah, and he stinketh..

      If we can do that, we can be raised by Christ from the dead. But most of us have trouble dying. Sigh…

      • That’s why He does it for us in Baptism. And He also does it through His Word of Law.

        St. Paul tells us that “we are to consider ourselves dead to sin.” Why? Because we don’t sin anymore? We know the answer to that, It is because we HAVE BEEN BAPTIZED.

        I know, I sound like another crazy Lutheran.

        Maybe I am.

        • Steve Martin, baptism is one thing I haven’t been able to get fully settled in my mind. If we say it is absolutely necessary in order to be born again, or saved, or spiritually regenerated or whatever term people want to use, what do we say about babies who die unbaptized? What do we say about people who really sought to know and love God and do his will but were never in a place or situation to get baptized? What do we do with people who never really heard the Good News that Jesus brought? What would we say happens to the people who are going through a multi-week process of learning what it is to become a Christian and in week 15 of 16 weeks, they died before they got baptized? These thoughts are why I wonder about baptism. I know that Jesus said to do it and therefore we do. Maybe this needs a whole new post from Jeff or Chaplain Mike or Damaris or Lisa sometime.

          • JoanieD,

            Baptism is something that God commands us to do…so we do it. Holy Scripture tells us in many places what God does for us in Baptism. Can God save apart from Baptism? Sure! Can He save in Baptism? Sure! 1st Peter 3:21 tells us flat out that Baptism saves us. God adopts us, gives us His name and makes us His own in Baptism.

            Can we walk away from our Baptisms and turn our back on God? Sure we can. But the promises He makes to us in our Baptisms are always good, always valid.

            What about babies who die before they are Baptized? Well, Holy Scripture tells us that they too are sinners in need of a Savior, and what kind of a God do we have? Gracious and merciful. We pray that He would show mercy upon them.

            Baptism is a gift of God. It is God’s external Word that comes to us from outside of ourselves. It is an objective Word that can be trusted in, no matter what we do, how we feel, or what we say.

            I believe that Christ Jesus commanded us to Baptize and to be Baptized, because He knows our tendancy to try and take matters into our own hands, to try and work ourselves up the religious ladder, to muster up our own “spirituality”.

            Not to draw any attention to myself, but if you go to my site you will see many, many posts concerning Holy Baptism and excellent comments from the ensuing discussions.

            I hope some of what I said helped a bit.

            Thanks, JoanieD.

          • Well, I think I just cannot believe that babies are born sinners and I don’t believe we will find Jesus saying that in the Gospels. Happily, Father Ernesto tells me that we DON’T have to believe that babies are sinners in need of baptism even though we know that Jesus said people needed to be baptized. (If I am misunderstanding Father Ernesto, I hope he or someone will correct me.) Jesus told people that they they had to become like little children to enter the Kingdom of God (as he embraced a small child). There are various interpretations on what that means, but I think that small children have not yet “left” the heart of God. They have not learned to be cynical, cruel, non-trusting, etc. I know, I know…you can tell me about your two-year-old who will prove that children are sinners. And I do want all who can be to be baptized. But I cannot and will not call an infant a sinner. I know folks will say, “Well, he hasn’t committed a sin personally but because of the fall, he is born in sin.” I just don’t buy it. I am aware that my thinking this way will get me considered by some to be heretical, but I can live with that. I would rather be honest with myself and others than repeat things that I just cannot believe and don’t believe that Jesus said.

          • “In sin my mother conceived me.” “There is none righteous, no not one.” I’m suprised that Father Ernesto doesn’t believe in ‘original sin’. The Bible is clear on it, and it is orthodox Christian doctrine.

            Children are capable of a gret deal of trust and are not jaded as adults become, but they are still sinners. Just look at infants who fight over a rattle or a toy. Children have to be taught not to be selfish.

            You don’t have to believe any of it, JoanieD. That is ok. But we (Lutherans) believe it is biblical, and so do millions of other Christians.

          • Joanie — The image of original sin that makes the most sense to me is this. Adam and Eve were citizens of the Garden of Eden. They emigrated and moved to the land of Sin, taking up citizenship and passports to that land. Their children are born into that nationality. They don’t choose that citizenship. They aren’t born necessarily partaking of all the characteristics of that country, but they are under its laws and called by its name, Sinners.

            Through the whole process of salvation — call, repentance, baptism, etc., in whatever order you want — Jesus is issuing us a new passport and tickets to a better kingdom. When we show up there, we’re pretty clueless. We don’t speak the language, we don’t know the customs, we make gaffes, we may even long for the cucumbers of Egypt — but the nationality we were born with (sinner) has been exchanged for a new citizenship.

            So it isn’t that babies sin themselves, any more than they vote or recite the Pledge of Allegiance or serve in the armed forces — but because of the acts of their ancestors they are part of the nation of sin and do need rescuing from it.

            This is my own, imperfect way of seeing the issue. Please toss it out if it’s not helpful.

        • Some of the audio links (posts on Baptism) are no longer working on my site, but this one still does. It’s an interesting class on Baptism given by my pastor:

          http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/pastors-class/

          Enjoy.

          • This is in response to Damaris but there is not a “Reply” place to click under her note.

            Damaris, thanks for taking the time to explain this through use of your analogy. It works as well as anything to explain about the concept of “original sin” I guess. BUT…it still leaves unbaptized infants “out there” except for people who stick to the idea of the absolute necessity of baptism but who then also say, “Well, God is good and he will manage to deal lovingly with the babies.” I will seek out what the Eastern Orthodox folks say about this. I know Father Ernesto wrote about it once, but I will try to find someone online too.

          • Damaris, in looking online to see what Eastern Orthodox say about unbaptized babies, I got sidetracked reading
            http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html which gives a lot of history about this issue in general, including Eastern Orthodox understandings Some of the things I particulary took note of was:

            “82. b) God does not demand the impossible of us. Furthermore, God’s power is not restricted to the sacraments: ‘Deus virtutem suam non alligavit sacramentis quin possit sine sacramentis effectum sacramentorum conferre’ (God did not bind His power to the sacraments, so as to be unable to bestow the sacramental effect without conferring the sacrament). God can therefore give the grace of Baptism without the sacrament being conferred, and this fact should particularly be recalled when the conferring of Baptism would be impossible. The need for the sacrament is not absolute. What is absolute is humanity’s need for the Ursakrament which is Christ himself. All salvation comes from him and therefore, in some way, through the Church.”

            “97. St Paul teaches that the unbelieving husband or wife of a Christian believer is “consecrated” through their wife or husband, respectively, and moreover that their children too are “holy” (1 Cor 7:14). This is a remarkable indication that the holiness that resides in the Church reaches out to people outside the visible bounds of the Church by means of the bonds of human communion, in this case the family bonds between husband and wife in marriage and parents and children.”

            “103. What has been revealed to us is that the ordinary way of salvation is by the sacrament of Baptism. None of the above considerations should be taken as qualifying the necessity of Baptism or justifying delay in administering the sacrament. Rather, as we want to reaffirm in conclusion, they provide strong grounds for hope that God will save infants when we have not been able to do for them what we would have wished to do, namely, to baptize them into the faith and life of the Church.”

            I think Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox are getting various close on this issue. I am not so sure about other “groups” within Christianity. But I do think it is an important issue for a variety of reasons. How you view this issue helps to determine how you view a lot about what Jesus did, who he is, how he loves and more. Because there then is the issue of other people who were never baptized who are older than small children. I will stay away from that for now!

  17. Good post. Visceral reaction to the title and graphic. In the last few years, this lion has dismantled just about everything I thought I knew about him – and after all my years of serving him. It has been a place of physical pain and sickness, loneliness and an overwhelming sense of abandonment. Hosea 6:1 often comes to mind: “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.”

    • Bella, your Hosea verse (and Jeff’s post) brings to mind a song I’ve been listening to lately, Rise’s “Are There Words?”

      “Break my heart in two;
      Mend the parts You choose.”

      • And your post reminds me of yet another song, an older 80’s one by Rob Frazier – “Break my heart til it longs for none but you.” Maybe that’s the problem: there are still other things that sit in the high places of our heart.

  18. Isn’t it interesting that a post on worship styles or church programming will garner over 100 comments, but a post on the crucified life gets few responses?

    • I’ve often thought about that too, Lee.

      I think people just are not too anxious to’die’.

      But Jesus did say that “if you would gain your life in this world, you must lose it.”

  19. Kelby Carlson says

    Beautiful.

    But how? That’s my question. maybe God’s just waiting for a different time; maybe he’s not going to have me die yet. But how do I surrender to his teeth when I’ve said the words, understood the doctrines, and come close to throwing word and doctrine away out of sheer frustration? What do I do in this middle-stage?

    • Are you baptized?

      If so, then you have been put to death with Christ. God did this for you in your baptism, regardless of whether you feel it, or not. It’s His Word of promise to you.It was there at your baptism…and it’s still there for you. If you believe it, then you’ve got it. You don’t have to feel saved, to know that you are saved.

      Find a place (church) that understands this. Hear it and hear it often. Because we all need to hear it often because we are in the habit of drifting away from that Word and not trusting it. Hearing it preached and receiving the Lord’s Supper will lead us to repent from our prodigal travels and return home again…time after time, after time. That is the life of the believer…repentance and forgiveness. In a nutshell, that is Baptism.

    • Open the bible to Romans 6 and carefully read the chapter. It is about baptism, and describes what God actually does in baptism.

  20. I’m sorry, while I understand the image of Christ being the “lion of Judah” and death to self and being raised to new life is certainly biblical, I think the idea of “surrendering to his teeth” so that Christ may “devour” us as wild lions do is a little much. Consider 1 Peter 5:8 and ask yourself if Jesus is really the kind of lion who behaves like the devil. Even C. S. Lewis must be rolling over in his grave. Go back and read Screwtape again and think about whether the one who is “not a tame lion” is also one who “devours” those he loves. Be careful whose teeth you’re surrendering to.

    • Yeah, Paul, I know what you mean. Jesus as a lion for me would be a lion who gums me a bit, but doesn’t devour me with his teeth! I know many of us have read C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles and the lion Aslan is seen as like Jesus, so we get comfortable with the portrayal of Jesus as a lion and also the “lion of Judah” reference helps us with that image of Jesus. But Jesus is also a Lamb. He is also a Shepherd. He is also a mother bird (Old Testament image). He is also a Bridegroom. He is also a Brother. He is our Savior. He is our God. But I also do understand Jeff’s point. Jesus wants us to be fully formed by him…body, mind, will and soul.

      • Thanks, JoanieD. Thanks for your response. Yes Jesus wants us to be fully formed by him but I don’t see this as Jeff’s point. I get the impression from his piece that Jesus wants to destroy and devour or consume us. That’s a very different thing. You can’t “fully form” something you have devoured. Dying to self is necessary. It’s a manner of relinquishing ownership of our lives to their rightful Owner. But the idea that Jesus want’s to devour us is all wrong, in my opinion. Jeff says, “For only what is dead can be resurrected.” True enough. But what is devoured cannot be resurrected because it is destroyed and becomes apart of another person’s body. This devouring is just not the process by which we become the “body of Christ” (which is a metaphor for the Church, not necessarily for individual Christians). It’s the resurrection of the body that is the Christian hope, not the consumption of our bodies by Jesus. Jesus never uses the image of devouring us and I think Paul would find it a repugnant illustration of his teaching. Ironically, Jesus teaches just the opposite. We are to “eat his flesh and drink his blood” (John 6:56 and context). He asks us to eat him! It seems that he is the only one that can be eaten by others without being destroyed and he offers us that ability because we certainly have no power to demand it of him the way a lion would of its prey (that’s the difference between “eating” and “devouring”). Our transformation comes about by his indwelling Spirit, his life within us, not our lives being consumed by him. “Devouring” is a term for destruction, not redemption. That’s the way is used in 1 Peter 5:8 to describe the devil’s desire and everywhere else in scripture.

        • Paul writes, ” Ironically, Jesus teaches just the opposite. We are to ‘eat his flesh and drink his blood’ (John 6:56 and context). He asks us to eat him! It seems that he is the only one that can be eaten by others without being destroyed..”

          Very true, Paul.

  21. So, how then do we distinguish between a Lion’s bite and that of a serpent? Let’s suppose that you have submitted in all sincerity to the Lion …and things begin to happen. You lose your job …Lion or serpent? Someone close to you dies (spouse, child) …Lion or serpent? Bankruptcy …Lion or serpent? Your health suffers (disease or injury) …Lion or serpent? Life turned upside down …Lion or serpent? How do we determine who’s eating us? Or, have I missed your point?

    Is there a discernable difference between a fiery dart and a Lion’s lascerating swipe across your hindquarters? How do we tell them apart? And is tragedy barely averted more mercy or warning? Does the Lion ever pounce with claws retracted?

    I am thoroughly distracted by your article, Jeff. It’s been on my mind for days. There is more meat to chew here ….