As I prayed about what direction to take with this post I was concerned that I was getting too theoretical. It is all too easy to approach the christian life in purely cognitive terms. Our opening passage makes clear that what is in your head, or even your heart, does not profit unless it finds an outlet through your hands, feet, or other assets.
It was at this point that I received the following letter from a brother in Costa Rica, and decided it was more important than anything I had to say. It presents a stirring example of someone who is struggling to walk out their loyalty to King Jesus. Someone who has been wronged, and has the opportunity to excercise the arm of the flesh in righting that wrong. I wonder how many of us would find some way to justify taking that option. How many of us really believe/are loyal to, the words our king spoke in His Sermon on the Mount? There are certainly many commentaries which will tell you why you should not take our king’s words there too seriously.
More to the point, how many of us are prepared to suffer with our brother, and share his suffering due to his loyalty to our king. I set this letter before you in hopes that it will both inspire you, and cause you to examine your own life, as it has done for me. I want to challenge you to let your loyalty have legs. At the very least I expect that we can be in prayer against the powers which have come against our brother, but I suspect that I have readers whom our king will call to put legs to there loyalty in very tangible ways. But first it is time to read the letter:
A brother suffering because of his loyalty
In the center of this picture is a dear brother by the name of Juan Jimenez, locally known as Juan Carmen (or more affectionately as Carmelo). He is a fixture of the church at Santiago from years gone by. Some twenty years ago he relocated from here to the congregation at San Vito, south from here. Because of inward turmoil as well as church problems there he has not been a member of that church for quite some time, and in the process his two children have turned their backs on the Lord. But now he’s come back home… to Santiago. He and his wife have been members now for about two years. His easy going nature and dedication to the Lord have won him a warm place in the affections of the brotherhood here. It seems to us, too, like he’s come back home.
But life has not been easy for him the past twenty years.
Aside from repeatedly witnessing unbecoming situations in the Christian church, and struggling to accept the decisions of his children, and a lot of stress in home life, he has struggled financially. In a measure he has succeeded… with a mix of woodworking, dairying and setting up a small milk processing plant where he buys milk from local farmers and sells milk products, he has been able to stay on top.
But the other day the blow fell… his milk facility was inspected. He expected the inspection and was not worried because he has all his permits up to date. But the lady inspector wasn’t interested in his permits… she confiscated $12,000 worth of products on her whim. Though such a confiscation must legally follow a certain protocol, she did not follow legal procedures. Her actions were quite suspicious looking… what might she have up her sleeve? The local authorities desperately want Juan to get a lawyer and pursue a legal settlement. The odds are pretty good that he could recuperate his money. As brethren we leave that option open to Juan… all he would have to do is sign the paperwork that the confiscation did not follow legal procedures. But he would rather not do that. He says there are a lot of people watching him, and he wants to show a genuine Christian testimony.