I hope every person who considers himself or herself a Christian quickly has a ready answer. I hope the answer is a shared answer: “The Lord owns me!”

I grew up in a rural congregation on the western edge of east Tennessee. Several songs frequently were part of our worship. They were sung at least once a month. One (written by Fanny J. Crosby) was, “I am Thine, O Lord.” In my mind, I still can hear us sing the chorus:

“Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.”

It is an affirmation, intent, and awareness. The singer affirms he/she wants the Lord to bring him/her closer. The singer wants to come closer and closer to the Lord. The singer is aware that the crucified, bleeding Jesus is the means of closeness to God.

That is a wonderful affirmation, intent, and awareness. If it is only an inner conviction, it is simple to voice. If it is an inner conviction expressed as the daily focus of one’s life, it is sobering and costly to voice this song.

Perhaps the greater our conviction, the more difficult is our challenge. Jesus draws us nearer through his sacrificial suffering and bleeding. By coming closer to Jesus, we come closer to God. Why does Jesus attract us? He bled for us! How do we come closer to God? The same way Jesus did! As he, we come closer through self-surrender by sacrifice and suffering. That is a hard, serious decision, not a simple, casual decision.

That decision involves many things! It involves different things for different people! For some, it involves rethinking “whom I allow to be my Lord.” For some, it involves a major commitment to repentance, a genuine redirecting of life. For some, it involves allowing “my theology to affect my daily behavior.” For some, it involves relationship issues. For some, it involves letting faith in God be bigger than fear of the past. For some, it involves the determination to endure pain for God.

For all it involves an enormously difficult challenge: the challenge to grow. To grow in what? Understanding, wisdom, purpose, faith, realization of what is eternal. Never will come the moment when we do not seek greater understanding, wisdom, purpose, faith, and realization of the eternal. The issue is not, “Am I comfortable where I am?” The issue is, “Is God pleased with where I am?” Are we constantly willing to grow, to be drawn nearer to the cross and the precious bleeding side?

Matthew 26:39, 42 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” ... He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 11 January 2004

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