This week's 'thought' comes to you from Thomas A'Kempis, who was born in Holland in 1392 to devout parents (a blacksmith father and school teaching mother). He was converted through the influences of a wandering street-preacher/evangelist named Gerhard Goote (who sought to turn people back to God and the Bible). Goote's basic message was simple: "Turn away from sin, live like Jesus, and read God's Word." A'Kempis later joined a group that became known as "The Brother's of the Common Life," whose goal was to live humble, simple, unpretentious lives patterned after the early Christians (Acts 2:42-47) and after the life of Jesus Himself in the Gospels.
"The Imitation of Christ" (though written in the 1420's) displays great insight, love for Jesus, simplicity in application and wisdom that still rings true and challanges people today. It's one of the most well read books in Christian literature, has been translated into over 50 languages, and has Scripture woven throughout every page. Today's selection has to do with truly following Jesus for Jesus sake. Enjoy.
"Jesus has many lovers of the heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few tribulation. He finds many companions of His table, but few of His abstinence. All desire to rejoice with Him, few are willing to endure anything for Him, or with Him. Many follow Jesus into the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His suffering. Many reverence His miracles, few follow the ignominy of His Cross. Many love Jesus so long as no adversities befall them, many praise and bless Him so long as they recieve consolations from Him; but if Jesus hide Himself and leave them but a little while, they fall either into complaining or into much dejection of mind.
Yet they who love Jesus for the sake of Jesus and not for some special comfort of their own, bless Him in all tribulations and anguish of heart, as well as in the state of highest comfort. Yes, even if He should never be willing to give them comfort, they notwithstanding would ever praise Him, and wish to be always giving thanks.
O how powerful is the pure love of Jesus, which is mixed with no self-interest or self-love! Are not all those to be called mercenary who are always seeking consolations? Do they not show themselves to be rather lovers of themselves than of Christ who are always thinking of their own profit and advantage? Where shall one be found who is willing to serve God for nothing? ... In the Cross is salvation, in the Cross is life, in the Cross is heavenly sweetness, in the Cross is strength of mind, in the Cross joy of spirit, in the Cross the height of virtue, in the Cross the perfection of sanctity. There is no salvation for the soul, nor hope of everlasting life, but in the Cross. Take up therefore the Cross and follow Jesus, and you shall go into eternal life."
Bound by our mutual desperate dependence on that Cross,