Merhan Nasseri became a refugee when Iran expelled him from his home. He went to the Belgian Embassy and obtained refugee documentation and boarded a plane. Landing in Paris, he realized he had lost his refugee documentation, could not claim citizenship, and had no passport. France denied him entry and he boarded a plane for England. English immigration denied Nasseri entry and returned him to France. When he arrived in France, the authorities did not know what to do so they allowed him to stay in a Terminal in the airport until they could figure something out. Nasseri found a bench and wrote in his diary, one day turned to two and then more. Our man-without-a-country slept on a bench, lived off handouts and tips from cleaning restrooms. In September of 1999, eleven years after landing in Paris, the French government issued Nasseri an international travel card and a French residency permit. Nasseri was free to go anywhere he wanted.
Nasseri took his paperwork, walked back to his bench, sat down, and wrote in his journal. He was afraid to leave his home of 11 years.
Why do we struggle to let go of what is comfortable and familiar? How many Christians try to hang on to our old life of comfort and convenience? How many of us think our life here is what life is?
Paul wrote, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died. And He died for all, so that they who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2Co 5:14-15 – LSB).
Surrendering the things of this world is not easy. Forsaking friends and family for Christ is not simple, ask the disciples. Setting aside possession is not easy, ask the Rich Young Ruler. For us staying on our bench in our earthly terminal is easier. But discipleship begins where I end.
- Discipleship begins when I stop living for me and live for Christ.
- Discipleship begins when I stop trusting my wisdom and learn from God.
- Discipleship begins when I stop focusing on the temporary and see the eternal.
I end at the Cross of Christ, and then life really begins! Get off your bench!