Richer by Far: The Death of Jesus as a Cautionary Tale (Eugene Debs, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, John Howard Yoder)

“To do evil, a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right. In every age there have been a few heroic souls who have been in advance of their time, who have been misunderstood, maligned, persecuted, sometimes put to death. Long after their martyrdom monuments were erected to them and garlands were woven for their graves. . . . Twenty centuries ago one appeared upon earth whom we know as the Prince of Peace. He issued a command in which I believe. He said, ‘Love one another.’ . . . He espoused the cause of the suffering poor . . . . It was not long before he aroused the ill-will and the hatred of the usurers, the money-changers, the profiteers, the high priests, the lawyers, the judges, the merchants, the bankers—in a word, the ruling class. They said of him just what the ruling class says of the Socialist today. ‘He is preaching dangerous doctrine. He is inciting the common rabble. He is a menace to peace and order.’ And they had him arraigned, tried, convicted, condemned, and they had his quivering body spiked to the gates of Jerusalem. This has been the tragic history of the race. . . . The men and women who have been in advance, who have had new ideas, new ideals, who have had the courage to attack the established order of things, have all had to pay the same penalty.” Eugene Debs

“Jesus’ cross was the price to pay for being the kind of person he was in the kind of world he was in; the cross that he chose was the price of his representing a new way of life in a world that did not want a new way of life. That is what he called his followers to do.” John Howard Yoder

“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin
were looking for false evidence against Jesus
so that they could put him to death.”
Mt. 26:59 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine doing evil and thinking it good? (I’m asking you to wonder about yourself, not those who oppose you.)
  • Have you ever read the gospel accounts of the murder of Jesus as a cautionary tale about what happens to those who won’t conform?
  • Does state sponsored violence or deadly religiously motivated hate seem to you like a calibrated response to dissent?

Abba, grant me the courage to live like Jesus in a world that scorns him and his way.

For More: “Address to the Jury” by Eugene Debs

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Daily Riches: The Trouble I Give Myself (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, Dwight Moody, Augustine)

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts. …And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“All the devils in hell and tempters on earth could do us no injury if there were no corruption in our own natures. …Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us. …The worst thing you have to fear is the treachery of your own heart.” Charles Spurgeon

“I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope, Self.” Martin Luther

“I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man.” Dwight L. Moody

“Lord Jesus, don’t let me lie when I say that I love you…and protect me, for today I could betray you.” Augustine

One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth. But Peter denied it. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said, and he went out into the entryway. …When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, ‘This man is definitely one of them!’ But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, ‘You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean. Peter swore, ‘A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”  Mark 14:65-72

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you fear “the treachery of your own heart?” If not, in light of these testimonies, and Peter’s example, why not?
  • If so, what practices do you have in place to protect yourself from the ravages of “the great pope (Self) within?”
  • Do you have a spiritual friend that can help you watch over your heart?

Abba, help me to guard my heart as though my life depended on it, for of course, it does.

For More: Lectures to My Students by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”