Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"Lord, have mercy on me! I cannot burn."

I've just read about Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, the English bishops who were martyred in 1555 during the rain of Bloody Mary.

I wept.

I didn't weep because they were martyred, I wept because as a Christian, I am not fit to occupy their heaven. I have neglected the scriptures for which they died and I have often forsaken the fellowship of believers. My brothers and sisters all over the world face death for their faith and I argue for my right to use the "f" word and drink beer. Such pitiful arguments among such pitiful Christians should shame us all into silence! YET WHY DO I CONTINUE SPEAKING?

Foolish me. What have I believed myself to be? I should heap ashes and dirt on my head and sit under a paper bag and lament the great sin of complacency that entangles me. These men are not worthy of earth and I am not worthy to be called "Christian" alongside them.

I am ashamed of my sin and I am ashamed of the opulence with which I surround myself. Oh to have done with lesser things! Oh, the legacy of which I cannot even conceive!

Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me.


Brian T. Murphy said...

Susan – I don’t know you that well, but I don’t perceive you as someone who is arguing for the right to use the f word and drink beer. I think that’s part of it, but I think the Christian struggle is really significant, whether you are facing death, or facing a hostile culture, or in our situation, facing a sterilized, complacent culture.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely hear you on having respect for these guys who ate stones and flames for their faith. I really do. I’m just saying that in our time and our place, our struggle to really find and follow Jesus is just as significant.

at the end of the day, jesus is center stage, not any of us, and that gives me a lot of hope.

susan said...

I know you must be right about that. If our struggle had lost its significance, we wouldn't still be here struggling. Thanks for that encouragement.

I heard someone say that we should stop looking for our identity in Christ and start looking for Christ's identity in us. I feel that with all of the push to make Christianity "relevant," I've lost some of its salt. I want Christ to consume every part of me, even if it makes me weird.

Well, more weird.


Robert said...

Part of the problem is that we don't acknowledge "the saints" the way the church used to anymore. The best churches have saints on display, not to deify them, but to point to what the Christian life is all about... martyrdom.

susan said...

Robert, that raises an interesting, yet unrelated, question....

why do we believe in the "communion of the saints," but we don't believe they can pray for us? (I'm not sure what the term "communion of the saints" means to Presbyterians... In my mind, it flows from Hebrews 11. I really think they are watching us and cheering for us as we struggle on toward Jesus.)


John in Birmingham said...


As to your question about the saints praying for us, I don't know that this resolves anything, but my father used to point out to me that there is only one example in the Bible of a person who has died praying for anything -- the rich man in hell who asked the beggar in heaven to get him a cup of water, or let him go and warn his brothers -- and the answer was "No".

Technically, this may not directly address your question since you asked about the saints praying for us, not the already damned, but the story stuck with me for some reason.

Robert said...

Su, Heb 12 teaches that the worshiping church is lifted in to the Shechinah in such a way that we all worship God in His presence in heaven, across time and space. In that way, the worshipping church is united past, present and future. ...kinda makes me wonder why people would want to skip church.

susan said...

Yes, that's right. It's Hebrews 12. That division has always seemed forced to me. It seems that the first verse of chapter 12 should be the last in chapter 11.

I love the idea that the saints can pray for us and are aware of our struggles. (It's important, I think, that John Calvin does not hold this view. I tend to defer, but I love the idea.) I do love the idea that as we worship in church we are worshipping with the glorified saints.

Robert, this is the second comment you've made that make me think you might be a Papist. :-)


Robert said...

This doesn't make me a papist (rather Augustinian), it just means i'm not a reductionist Baptist.