PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Christian Witness-Bears a Bull’s Eye for a Birthmark of the New Birth”.
In his book, Waking the Dead, John Eldredge finds an historical parallel to the jealousy that the Devil has about Christ, and the believers who bear his image. This parallel is found in the jealousy that the Court Composer, Antonia Salieri, had of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Eldredge writes, “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a glorious man. An image bearer. You remember from your youth the song-‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’? Mozart wrote that melody when he was three years old! He composed his first symphony when he was twelve years old. Mozart’s music has endured, enchanting the world for centuries. He is probably played more often than any other classical composer. Yet this brilliant man died very young-we really do not know how or why. Impoverished, alone, his body was dumped into a common grave. In his 1984 movie, Amadeus, Peter Shaffer attempts to tell the tale of what happened to this musical genius, and the jealous rivalry and conflict that went on between Mozart and Salieri. It is a story of genius and jealousy, leading to murder. Shafer presents Salieri as a villain worthy of the devil himself. Salieri is a musician of lesser note. Once he discovers the greatness of Mozart, and sees how he is appreciated and loved by all, he is tormented by a jealousy that has only one goal-to destroy this music who is the Incarnation of God’s gift of music. He embodies what must have been Lucifer’s jealousy of God’s glory, which brought the angel to his ruin. There is a remarkable scene in the film. Mozart’s wife brings a sample of his music to Salieri, in hopes of getting her husband a job. She does not know that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Glancing through the pages of Mozart’s portfolio, Salieri is captivated by the work of his rival’s hand. He asks Mrs. Mozart-‘are these originals?’ She responds, ‘yes-he never makes copies’. Salieri is amazed. ‘How can this be? There are no corrections of any kind. He writes his music down-a finished product-from his head-page after page-as if it is dictation…finished like no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall. The sound I heard of him playing in the Archbishop’s palace was no accident. His music is the very voice of God…absolute beauty. It is miraculous!'” Eldredge then describes the defining scene of the movie. “(Salieri leaves the room sullen. He goes into his private chambers. He takes his crucifix down from the wall. He places it in the fire. Then Salieri addresses God and says, ‘From now on we are enemies. You and I! Because you have chosen for your Instrument this boastful, lustful, infantile boy…and give me only the ability to recognize this Incarnation! Because you are unjust…unfair…and unkind! I will block you. I swear it! I will hinder and harm Your gifted creature here on earth as far as I am able. [shaking his fist in the air]. I will ruin your Incarnation!” In Eldredge’s mind Salieri illustrates for every Christian, how Lucifer resents Jesus, and all who have embraced Him as their Savior. He especially feels that Satan has marked all Christians, who have made winning the lost their priority, and has declared an all-out war on them to destroy them and their attempt to follow their Lord in “seeking and saving those who are lost and perishing”.
One of my favorite cartoonists is Gary Larson, who ran the Far Side in syndication from January 1, 1980 until he retired it on January 1, 1995. One of my favorite cartoons showed two deer standing near a wood. One of them has a large bulls-eye on its side. The other deer looks at it and responds, “Bummer of a birth-mark Hal!” Lol. John Eldredge is saying that any Christian who takes seriously the mandate of our Lord to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” has a new birth mark. It is a bulls-eye target. Satan has them in his cross-hairs! He, like Salieri, has declared all out war, with the intention of destroying them and any witness they might have. In his trilogy Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien has one of his characters, Théoden say-“I will not risk open war”. Aragon replies to him, “Open war is upon you, whether you risk it or not!” William Gurnall writes “It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; ot os tjos at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons!” Thomas Cosmades reminds us-“Anyone one who witnesses to the Grace of God in Christ is undertaking direct assault against Satan’s dominion”. Satan will not let that happen without retaliation. John of the Cross told his followers-“The devil fears a soul united to God as he does God Himself”. Ambrose of Milan said that as Christians we are “athletes in preparation for a spiritual wrestling match-to the death!” Florence Nightingale said, “The Christian life is a hard fight, a wrestling with evil, hand to hand, foot to foot. Every inch of the way is disputed!” One of the very best books I have ever read on witnessing is by Mark Cahill. It is titled One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven. The book is filled with quotes of motivation on witnessing from the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The first quote sets the tone-“Every Christian is either a missionary, (a witness), or an imposter!” You can only imagine the rest! Edifying reading. As Christians we must go all out in these last days giving our lives and lips to sharing Jesus with those who need him while there is still time. When we do that, we must brace ourselves for an ALL OUT ASSAULT ON THE GOSPEL OF GRACE. Today’s message describes the methodology that Satan uses in that all out assault. He that hath ears-Let him hear what the Spirit says to those who Testify to the Gospel of Grace.