There’s a book being passed around our church called “not a fan” (by Kyle Idleman) You can click the link to learn more about it but I’ll just say, if you consider yourself a follower of Christ, it will – at the very least – make you sit back and seriously examine your life and – at the most – kick your tail. I read the borrowed copy and will be purchasing one of my own to mark up & dog ear to my heart’s content (and husband’s dismay).
At one point Idleman focuses on the significance of Jesus’ call to “deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 – I changed it to more personal pronouns) He breaks it down into what the first century listeners would have understood. Here in America we tend to consider that passage in light of inconveniences & mild discomforts. Christians in other countries would be able to grasp the true meaning much more easily. But Americans, well, I think very few of us understand true sacrifice. (How often do we leave out the “deny” part when quoting that verse?) Somehow I don’t think pleading “But I sacrificed my *Starbucks money* for your cause!” is going to impress God all that much. (And trust me, that phrase is straight from my personal encyclopedia of rationalizations) No. God calls us to true sacrifice. He calls us to give up everything. Our control, our lives, our security, our insecurities, our comfort….our boxes.
Did you get that? He wants us to step out of our boxes. He wants us to live uncomfortably.
See here’s the thing. The whole directive to clothe the cold & feed the hungry & give water to the thirsty…I GET that. I can fathom the idea of financial or physical discomfort. I don’t LIKE it but I can deal with it. But relational discomfort…whoa. Hold on. I like my little area of making people feel good, not raising the stinging subject of their eternity.
But again – Jesus didn’t say feed the people and send them on their happy, oblivious way. He was very specific in His command to teach. (Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”)
I read “not a fan” on the heels of finishing a study called “Contagious Christian”. And right on the heels of THAT a friend started this website, Dead Church Rising, with the intention of starting a movement, an awakening. He’s trying to stir up those who call ourselves Christ followers. You might call him a trouble makin rabble rouser and he’d probably wear that title proudly. He’s calling for us to authentically live out what we claim. I can’t say I know him really well but I can promise you this: he’ll never pull punches but he is passionate and honest and transparent.
I know this is already long and rambly but if you’ll indulge me an excerpt from his July 13 post. Don’t skim this. Read it.
“Soon after <Jesus rose from the dead>, the Apostles and other disciples of Jesus began to share with the world the great news that, Jesus had not only died on the cross, but had risen from the dead to be the final sacrifice for their sins! The Bible tells us that in the beginning there were only 120 believers and yet that small band of followers spent the rest of their lives sharing the news of Jesus with anyone and everyone who would listen. (Emphasis mine)
Nearly 2000 years later it is evident that the efforts of those men and women was not in vain. In fact, as I sit here writing I realize how grateful I am for their passion and sacrifice….”
And then this little gem “So here we are…2011…and I can’t help but wonder, who is going to be grateful for our passion and our faithfulness?”
So now what? What does this mean for your life? Does it mean anything or can you read it, nod, and forget about it?
I’ll be honest. I don’t know what it means for my life. But when I figure it out I’ll let you know.