Saturday, May 28, 2016

Not Here to Water the Cowardly & the Faithless

How many people would attend a church where the pastor stood up and said, "If you want to follow God, get up and let's walk out that door. You might not ever again see your family, you might lose your children, and it could be that when you walk out that door, someone is waiting to kill me and you with me?" 

As a child I used to run scenarios through my head like that in church. I'd imagine a gunman walking in and opening fire down the center aisle. I'd picture myself jumping off the balcony rail and slamming his head into the concrete. I never wanted to be someone who cowered in fear. You may question the theology of attacking the attacker, but let's not go down that rabbit hole. 

My point is that Jesus was that preacher who said ridiculous things to the people that came to hear him. He told them that if they really wanted to follow him, well... then they had to be willing to lose everything else. 

We don't preach these things in the modern church. We preach that we protect our families at all costs. We preach that we need to pay off our bills, be responsible for the future, and certainly we should never offend anyone. 

And then there's Jesus. He spoke in parables that few understood, and when he had their attention, he told them that most of them gathered were like seeds thrown on rocks and thorns that weren't worth the water he could throw on them. He told them that many of them were more worthless than spoiled salt that was so bad... it could spoil fertilizer. 

Yeah, Jesus told his gathering that most of them were more worthless than poop. At least poop could be used to grow something (Mt 5:34-35).

Our little congregation is growing and families are coming, but I am reminded today after listening to a sermon by Francis Chan that what I preach can never be about the number of those in attendance. 

God did not call me to plant a church in Guatemala to water the cowardly or the faithless (Rv 21:7-8), but He called me here to boldly walk life beside those who are seeds planted in good soil, salt that enhances food, and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in spite of the risks (Acts 4:29).

Jesus really made it clear. If we are to follow him, then we need to do it completely. His Father is a jealous God (Ex 20:4-6), we simply do not get to place ANYTHING before Him in importance. 

And so... to those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus, or "Christians," it either means everything to us, or we're just wasting our time. We've got to be willing to give what we have to help those in need. Not through a government, or a tax, but out of desperation when we see it. 

Most of us won't have that chance to jump from a balcony to take down the bad guy... but every single man or woman that professes to follow Jesus must be willing to lay down his or her life in the same way when we see someone in need. We either see it or we don't. We either hear the words of Jesus, or we don't. We either live it... or we do not.

There's just no space here for the cowardly and the faithless.

Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” -Rv 21:7-8 NRSV

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