I'm a fairly slow reader, and I'm behind on a number of books that many have already read and written about.
Some things Francis said in Crazy Love have really convicted me. For example:
LUKEWARM PEOPLE are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God. ...
LUKEWARM PEOPLE do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don’t have to trust God if something unexpected happens—they have their savings account. They don’t need God to help them—they have their retirement plan in place. They don’t genuinely seek out what life God would have them live—they have life figured and mapped out. They don’t depend on God on a daily basis—their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God. ...
But since God is real, Paul and the martyrs should be envied more than all people; their suffering was worth it. If we allow ourselves to live recklessly for Him, then we, too, will see His glory. We will see Him do the impossible. Christians today like to play it safe. We want to put ourselves in situations where we are safe “even if there is no God.” But if we truly desire to please God, we cannot live that way. We have to do things that cost us during our life on earth but will be more than worth it in eternity.
Chan, Francis (2010-01-01). Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (p. 75-76, 114). David C Cook. Kindle Edition.
I feel that I am not a lukewarm Christian, but my toes feel quite stomped on when it comes to "playing it safe," as Chan describes it.
He's right—so much of my life has been spent focused on safety.
"GOD, please keep us safe."
"Please watch over and protect us."
"Please give us a safe trip."
"Please watch over our house and pets while we're away."
We need to be wise, and we need to plan. Those things are important.
Our aim, our prayer, our mission, however, should be for GOD to use us in whatever way brings Him glory.
We should pray that our hearts will be open to accept whatever He sees is best, whatever way we can glorify Him. We can't see what that is, but we know that He can.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I am reading the writings of the early Christians (between 100-325 A.D.) in addition to my Bible studies.
I am enthralled, convicted and embarrassed when I read of the dedication of these brothers and sisters for the cause of Jesus.
Stories abound of those who've given everything for the cause of Jesus through the centuries.
At times I feel guilty for living in America where we enjoy tremendous (albeit rapidly declining) religious freedom. I think of the Christians who live in places where their lives are at risk for the gospel and I view them as making such a greater sacrifice than we do here, on average.
A few years ago, my brother-in-law Russ asked a question in a Bible class that has had a tremendous impact upon me.
"If GOD spoke to you right now and told you to go get on a plane for Africa, that He had a mission for you there, what would you do?"
At the time, when he asked that question to the class, it felt like a punch to the gut.
"I couldn't say no to GOD...I wouldn't say no...would I?"
At first I was defensive, thinking surely I'd obey GOD.
Then, the more I thought about it, I realized that, while I probably would go, I would be extremely afraid and I would've hesitated.
I would've pulled a Moses: "Can't you send someone else, GOD?"
I was embarrassed because, in that moment, I saw in myself the rich young man that wanted eternal life, only not at all costs.
Here's how Mark describes this encounter with Jesus:
17 As Jesus started on his way [to Jerusalem, about a week prior to His death], a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
(Mark 10:17-31 NIV)
"One thing you lack."
It's as if Jesus was saying to me, "Tim, one thing you lack. Your trust is not wholly in GOD; rather, you have built safety nets upon which you rely just in case."
I've thought a lot about this since, and I've made a lot of progress since that day. And I know I have a lot more progress left to make.
The reality is, GOD has not called us to be safe.
Quite the opposite. He's called us to follow, and that includes walking through both green pastures as well as the valley of the shadow of death, when that's where He leads.
What about you?
Where do you find yourself when you consider these things?
Is your life overly-focused on being safe, or have you overcome this to rely solely upon GOD?
I'd love to learn from you.