Is Your Knee Bent?
“I think the way of Jesus is the right way, but my neighbors will kill me if I become a Christian. My brother became a Christian, and he has fled to Shashamanee to stay alive.”
Lloyd and I listened, stunned by the confession of an elderly Muslim man. All his life he had followed the teachings of Islam; all his family and neighbors follow that teaching, as had the many generations before him.
What brought him to this conclusion? Let me tell you in his own words, as best I can.
“You have come here from a long way away. You have come to tell a few poor people about how to grow better crops. You have given of your own wealth and time to come to us, a few poor people here in Ethiopia. I have seen also ________ (a church leader) give up his land for the building of this church building. I think the way of Jesus is the right way.”
So what is the way of Jesus? It is the way of sacrifice; it is the way of service. It is the way of compassion. It is the way of love. It is the way of helping another person, even if in that helping we ourselves suffer loss.
Look at Jesus Himself; consider the message of Philippians chapter 2.
Jesus was comfortable in Heaven. He had the whole host of angels at His beck and call. He had complete dominion over the universe that He had created. He needed nothing. He was vulnerable to no one. He had complete security and comfort.
And then the Father came to Him and asked, “Will you go?”
Let us think about this question. The Father did not force the Son to come to Earth for our benefit. No, He asked: “Are You willing to give up Heaven, Your security, Your comfort, Your glory? Are you willing to give up My companionship? Are You willing to make Yourself vulnerable to Your creation, even to die at their hands, in order to secure their souls forever? Are you willing to be obedient to Me, even to the point of death?”
To our great benefit, and His great loss, the Son replied, “Yes, I am willing.” He remained faithful to His word all the way to Calvary. And in due time, the Father has exalted Him above all other Names, that at the Name of JESUS, every knee shall bow!!!
Every knee shall bow…
That’s future tense. There is no “if,” “and,” or “but” about it – every knee shall bow to Jesus in the future.
But is my knee bent NOW? Is yours?
Jesus put the idea of a farming workshop into the mind of Lloyd and me. He empowered us to go at our own expense. He kept us physically able while we were in Alaba. He supplied all that we needed in terms of transportation, translators, and materials. He put a love in our hearts for the people we spoke with. As the Father sent the Son, so the Son sent Lloyd and me.
Each day in Alaba we traveled to a different village. The farmers gathered, usually 30-70 of them, along with a few women and children. Ninety percent of the farmers in our workshops clearly did not know the One who made the soil and grew the crops on their farms. They came to our workshops because word had spread that we were giving away free seeds.
Lloyd spoke about the soil and the nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash. He spoke of water and soil erosion. He spoke about compost piles. Then I spoke about the new vegetables we were introducing – okra, squashes, green beans, field peas, and sweet potatoes. The farmers were eager to learn of these new crops. We showed pictures of the plants. I talked about how to cook the vegetables. I related our garden here at Rosewood Farm with the gardens they have in Alaba.
For a few hours Lloyd and I were one with them. We shared the soil and crops as all mankind shares the soil and crops. But in the moment of distribution of the seeds, suddenly a sharp distinction sounded.
You see, these farmers had received free things before. Representatives of the government or of aid societies had spoken with them. The government and aid societies are nameless, faceless, and loveless. The representatives who had come before had been paid to come; their workshops were just a part of their job. The success of their workshops was irrelevant. They were disconnected from the farmers.
Before distributing the seeds, I spoke clearly of the One who had sent us, and the manner in which He had sent us. I spoke of the love He had shown to us, and of the love in us that prompted us to give sacrificially, personally to them. The picture of God Himself leaving Heaven, motivated by love and compassion, began to take shape in their minds. Such amazing news! Such a wonderful thing! How could it be??
As the way of Jesus was spoken, as they grasped the demonstration of that Way in our own lives, as the wonder in their minds gave way to reality, I watched the expressions change on their faces. First they expressed wonder, trying to understand this Good News. Then amazement came, mingled with joy, as the Good News was understood. Finally, questioning, as they gripped the final analysis.
You see, to embrace the Good News, to follow Jesus’ way, meant leaving family, and perhaps leaving life. It meant hardship. It meant suffering. It meant abandonment.
The elderly gentleman on the front row came to the back after our workshop was completed. He separated himself from his Muslim neighbors. And he spoke his heart to us. “You know, we Muslims make it difficult for someone who becomes a Christian. Sometimes we kill him. Or we try to put him in prison. But I think the way of Jesus is the right way. Will you pray for me? I want to follow God. But if I follow Jesus, my neighbors will kill me.”
Those words of this man haunt me today. “Will you pray for me?”
Today there are many, many men in Alaba who heard the clear message of Jesus’ way just a few weeks ago. Now they must decide about Him. Is their life on earth more important than their eternal soul? Is the trouble of life as a Christian worth the joy and peace of the Saviour? Each farmer must decide for himself. Just as the Father did not force the Son, so the Saviour does not force the sinner.
Nor does the Saviour force those He’s saved.
Is your knee bent? Is mine?
July 14, 2007