Collecting Scars

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die, and rent
by ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound, no scar?
Yet as the Master shall the servant be,
And, pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?

This poem by Amy Carmichael may sound, to the casual Christian, a bit pessimistic. But to the one who has known Jesus in the depth of suffering, who has walked through the valley of the shadow of death clinging to the savior’s hand and found Him faithful there, it is the simplest truth of the Christian walk.

A Dangerous Tragedy

Too often, in our modern, western view of Christianity, we believe- if not in our stated theology then certainly in our heart- that to follow Christ is to have a happy, thriving life. Sure, we may expect trials to come in some sense or another: difficulty at work, in relationships, and with our finances. However, we equally expect that God will solve these problems for us, without too much delay, and we will move happily on with life.

This line of thinking is dangerous, all but assuring that when true trials come we will either walk away from faith completely or at the very least begin to water it down. It is also a tragedy, denying the Christian the true pleasure of knowing what it is to suffer with Christ and suffer well.

To Follow Christ is to Suffer

It is the Christian way to suffer. Not that we ought to seek it out or glorify it. It is simply a fact. To follow Christ is to suffer. The cross itself is a symbol of death and sacrifice. Jesus came, suffered, and died, and what servant is greater than his master?

In parts of the world, this suffering is obvious. Christians in the darkest places are tortured, raped, murdered, displaced, and reviled. They gather scars at every turn, and by doing so are transformed more and more into the image of Christ.

All Will Suffer

Yet when we look beyond those dark places, suffering is equally at hand. This world has fallen, this faith of ours is hated by the rulers of this present darkness. How can we expect to live a happy little life, free of suffering? To do so is foolishness. No, we are all but guaranteed to suffer, and to suffer greatly. Whether it’s the heartache of illness and death, broken relationships, fractured dreams, poverty, or loss, we will know at least some of it. Some of us will know it all.

Collecting Scars

The question is not whether we will suffer, it’s what we will do with that suffering when it inevitably comes. Will we shrink away, disappointed and disillusioned from our Sunday school faith? Or will we allow the trials to press us, to try us, and to turn our faith into gold- unshakable and unbreakable?

Will we collect our scars begrudgingly, hiding them and ashamed that somehow we did not come through this life unscathed (as though such a thing were possible) or will we recognize their beauty, their ability to make us like our beloved savior, and embrace them?

Following Far

After all, don’t we want to be those who “follow far” our savior on this narrow road? For the persecuted church, these scars are everywhere. They recognize the beauty and don’t bemoan the unfairness of their lot. Whether we find ourselves in the darkest places or beyond, may we too embrace what it is to suffer with Christ, and allow it to see itself through to completion, producing in us the steadfastness and beauty of belonging to Christ, broken and surrendered. 

collecting scars

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We believe the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are inspired by God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct. (2 Timothy 3:15-17, 1 Peter 1:21)

We believe that there is one God, eternally existent who has revealed Himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 6:4, Luke 3:22)

We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for us, in His present rule as Head of the Church, and in His personal return in power and glory. (Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:31)

We believe in the creation of mankind in God’s image, and the fall of man, resulting in universal guilt and total depravity; and the necessity, therefore, of redemption and restoration; that all men and women are lost spiritually and face the judgment of God, that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, and that repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for regeneration by the Holy Spirit. (Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:17)

We believe salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life. (Luke 24:47, John 3:3)

We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; the saved unto the resurrection of eternal life in the presence of our Lord, and the lost unto the resurrection of damnation and eternal punishment. (Matthew 25:46, Mark 9:43-48)

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ and that all true believers are members of His body, the Church, which has the duty to preach the Gospel to every person. (Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 2:22)

We believe that we must dedicate ourselves to prayer, to the service of our Lord, to His authority over our lives, and to the ministry of teaching, preaching, the prophetic, the apostolic, and evangelism. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

We believe in upholding the ordinances of the church of water baptism and holy communion.

The ordinance of baptism by immersion is commanded by the Scriptures. All who repent and believe in Christ as Savior and Lord are to be baptized. Thus, they declare to the world that they have died with Christ and that they also have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life. (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16, Acts 10:47,48, Romans 6:4)

The Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements—bread and the fruit of the vine—, is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4), a memorial of His suffering and death (1 Corinthians 11:26), and a prophecy of His second coming (1 Corinthians 11:26), and is enjoined on all believers “till He comes!”