Following Jesus is the most unsafe thing you can ever do.
….And the most rewarding!
“We and the world, my children, will always be at war. Retreat is impossible. Arm yourselves.” – Leif Enger
Life is hard! A life being lived out with Jesus is even harder. I’ve heard more times than I can count of how hard life is going to be when I grow up. It all stems from relative truth and is a very important part of our lives to understand but sometimes a question arises in my mind that provokes me to think outside of my comfortable box and situate myself in the realms of faith, in the realms of uncertainty, risk and supernatural. Thinking back on it all so far at the age of 24 closing in on the end of the year 2013, “How about your life? Why have things gone the way they have? Where was God in all that and do you know what you ought to do next, with a deep, settled confidence that it will work out?” We all like to have the confidence to tell others what we’re going to do in life; what our career is and where we’re going to live and work for the next 5 years or so before we settle down, go on vacation to the Bahamas and buy that car we always wanted. Its good to tell people those things. This all began in High school when we had to tell people where we were thinking of going to college and what we wanted to study or be. Setting up the rest of our lives like a badge we wear for others to see.
Where does God come in?
The reality is that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not popular terms to mention when talking about our lives or career. Jesus doesn’t compute with the mold of the ordinary life. He broke the mold a couple thousand years ago and challenged us to take a stand and be different, to follow after Him and pursue the extraordinary and that has caused strife and confusion with our future. For some, following Jesus and letting go of everything else is easy but for some it’s not. We tend to view our lives with Jesus through the lenses of the normal. Jesus was never normal and we can’t view a life with Him through such lenses. The truth is that “the description of the Christian life practically shouted in the New Testament compared with the actual life of most Christians today is…embarrassing.” Jesus, when He was teaching and speaking to the masses on Mt. Eremos or the mount of Beatitudes, He taught and spoke about things that caused men and women to stir in their skin. It was unlike anything, anyone had ever heard before and it shook the very foundation of which they had established themselves as people. He challenged them to forsake it all, ALL!!!!!! He asked them to give it all up and follow Him. Some probably walked away that day, others probably kept listening, not sure what to choose but were getting really close and others were sold out immediately. This was the thing they had been waiting their whole lives to hear and once they did nothing else mattered. They had found out who we’re supposed to be and took it.
“The glory of God is man fully alive.” – Saint Irenaeus
Back during the second century there lived a man named Irenaeus who was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul. He was an early church father and apologist. He was a hearer of Polycarp, who in turn was traditionally a disciple of John the Evangelist. Irenaeus wrote these simple yet powerful words about “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Now for me and what I’ve learned throughout my short time, as a Christian compares nothing to the fact that God, the all-powerful father of the world whose presence makes the earth melts like wax, is staking His entire reputation on us becoming fully alive! Are you kidding me?
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full….” John 10:10
I thought that once I accepted Christ, I was forgiven and I was granted acceptance into Heaven (Eternal Life). That is all true but the reality of this is that once you say Yes to God, you’ve basically pledged yourself to serve in His army by being fully alive, fully awakened at what is really going on around us. Alive.
“I am the bread of life.” John 6:48
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38
There is so much talk about eternal life that we miss what’s happening right in front of us. A quote from the book “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge, says this:
“I began to get the feeling of a man who’s been robbed. I’m well aware that it’s life I need, and it’s life I’m looking for. But the offer has gotten “interpreted” by well-meaning people to say, ‘Oh, well. Yes, of course…God intends life for you. But that is eternal life, meaning, because of the death of Jesus Christ you can go to Heaven when you die.’ And that’s true…in a way. But it’s like saying getting married means, ‘Because I’ve given you this ring, you will be taken care of in your retirement.’ And in the meantime? Isn’t there a whole lot more to the relationship in the meantime? (It’s in the meantime that we’re living out our days, by the way.) Are we just lost at sea? What did Jesus mean when he promised us life?
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” Luke 18:29-30
This war we wage with Christ is saturated throughout the New Testament. You either fight or you die. “Until we come to terms with war as the context of our days we will not understand life. We will misinterpret 90% of what is happening around us and to us.” Life is hard, unless you see it as a battle. Before Jesus promised us life, he warned that a thief would try to steal, kill and destroy it. I know enough to know that I don’t know that much. But one thing I do understand clearly than the rest is: we don’t understand what’s happening around us or to us or to those we love, and we are practically clueless when it comes to the weight of our own lives and the glory that’s being…held back. Some of us don’t see it yet, some do. Some did and lost it long ago but it’s really easy to recover. Warning: A life with Jesus is the most unsafe thing you will ever choose to do in this life.
We were made for more. In the movie “The Matrix,” Morpheus has a conversation with Neo that goes something like this:
MORHPEUS: I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he’s expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?
NEO: Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
MORPHEUS: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain. You feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life. There’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is. But it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving your mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me…
MORPHEUS: You are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, into a prison that you cannot taste or smell or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the matrix is. You must see it for yourself.
That truth that we cannot be told, but have to see it for ourselves spans the very foundation of our relationship with God. That’s why most people don’t know that choosing Jesus is dangerous because you become aware of what it happening around you. It’s a war. A bloody battle between good and evil with us in the middle. You have more significance that you could ever know. Look at it like this:
“a great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads…the dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter…and there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven…Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
We, who stand in the field of freedom, taking upon us the adoption of sons and daughters into the arms of the almighty, might stand firm in the truth spoken over us since the beginning of time, fighting the fight and running the race to make our father’s name known among the nations. Let us not lose heart. Focus our gaze on Jesus and fight through the crap this world seeks to combat us with.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18