Victor Meldrew often said, ‘I don’t believe it’, and I’m sure we have all uttered similar words on more than one occasion!
I reacted in the same way when I read an article in the morning newspaper on the train on my way to work this week. The following headlines grabbed my attention; “Monk chops off his head for good luck”!!! The article reported that a Buddhist monk, on his birthday had cut off his head with a guillotine, believing the sacrifice would bring him good luck in the afterlife!!
Apparently, the Thai monk had been planning this awful act for five years, and as the newspaper article went on to say, “His wish was to offer his head and his soul so the Lord could reincarnate him as a higher spiritual being in the next life”!!!
At his funeral, mourners that carried his remains, concluded that ‘he fulfilled his goal and met enlightenment’. However, the National Buddhist Society said that such a practice ‘was not encouraged; instead, people can give money or free captive birds in order to find favour with their Deity’!!!!
We might ‘shake our heads’ in disbelief at such drastic actions, but I’ve had many conversations with people who genuinely believe that it’s ‘what they do’ that will bring about ‘their salvation’. If you were to suggest that they undertake a specific task in order to gain God’s favour, they would gladly do it!!
But the Apostle Paul clearly reminded his readers then, and us today, that we are
saved by His grace when we believed, and that salvation is not a reward for the good things we have doneEphesians 2:8-9
When we read of the life of Jesus, we find on numerous occasions that Jesus simply invited someone to ‘Come to Him’, an invitation to embark on a daily faith journey with Him. When the 12 disciples left what they were doing and followed Jesus, I suspect none of them knew of the adventure that was to follow!
I’ve been speaking with a prisoner for a number of months. A very intelligent man in his 50’s. He had explored numerous ‘faiths’, particularly Buddhism, but ‘hadn’t found peace and contentment’. Over time, as we have chatted through many issues, the biggest stumbling block was his inability to see that it wasn’t what he had to do (as most other faiths would suggest) but it was believing ‘through faith’. This week I was asked by an officer if I would go and ‘a have a chat with Michael’. When I spoke with him, he told me that he had ‘in faith’ asked God into his life, and ‘was that ok with me’!!!!! Even I didn’t have to think about that one!!!!
He had written a poem, which he felt expressed where he was at and this is what he wrote:
“Lord, here I am, and here I stand, surrendered to your loving hand.
With love divine, you make me strong; redeem my soul, forgive my wrongs.
I can endure this heavy load with your light beside me on my road.
Please walk with me, show me the way, for Lord in You, I trust and pray”….
Jesus still says to each of us, ‘Come, whoever you are and whatever your situation, and experience my grace in your life and let’s journey together’; and from experience, that’s something I totally believe in!