An Echo from Carthage
Cyprian of Carthage (200-258) was one of the great early fathers of the Church of God on this earth. He died a martyr under the persecution of his age. When told of his soon to follow fate he replied, “Thanks be to God,” so honored was he at being chosen to give our Lord such a final sacrifice.
On the incarnation, self-emptying, sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, Cyprian wrote, “What humanity is, Christ was willing to be, that humanity may become what Christ is.”
Now, the Christian is called to that same self-emptying and sacrifice of one’s own life in exchange for Christ’s life throbbing through him. Paul captures this duty and confesses,
“I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:19-22).
Of Christ Cyprian extols, “He was proclaimed as the Illuminator and Teacher of humanity. He is the Power of God, the Reason of God, the Wisdom and Glory of God. He enters into a virgin. Although holy and spiritual in His nature, He is clothed with flesh – God made one with Man. Behold our God! Behold Christ! He is the Mediator between God and humanity. He put on human nature that He may lead humanity to the Father.”
Can you see it? Now, if you have received Him, Christ has inhabited you – you are the flesh He has put on, that He indwells … and one in whom He desires “to live and move and have His being.” Through you… and you… and you… many ‘Christs,’ doing many “greater things” allowing Him through each to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means [He] might save some.”
This requires you too to die — to die, at least, to ‘self.’ Can you shout with Cyprian “Thanks be to God!” ?