Friday, April 15, 2011

Follow Jesus- I Dare Ya!


Yes...Monks on a Rollercoaster
A scene from the 1989 movie, Parenthood:
GrandmaYou know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
GilOh?
GrandmaUp, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: What a great story.
GrandmaI always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing.  I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it...


Among the life-altering things I remember reading in Leonard Sweet's 1999 classic, SoulTsunami, was a section about what it is like to really follow Jesus.  There is nothing risk-free about following the Christ.  Yet so many pastors (especially those appearing on TV) seem to teach that the quickest path to the "good life" is becoming a Christian.  They make it all sound so predetermined and orderly.  Follow Jesus and you will quit sinning.  Quit sinning and God will bless you.  When God blesses you, life will be full of rainbows and unicorns.  It's as simple as that!  Well, no...it's not.  There is nothing orderly about following Jesus, because in fact, the Good News is chaos!

I have checked the gospels pretty thoroughly, and I can say with some confidence that Jesus never said any of the following:

"Come follow me, and I will give you perfect health."
"Come follow me and I will give you power and wealth."
"Come follow me and I will put a steak on your grill and a Jacuzzi in your backyard.  OH- and a beach volleyball court!  Everyone loves beach volleyball!"

What he did say was to leave everything behind, take up your cross, and follow Him.  The notion that your life will be all peaches and cream once you follow Jesus is just total BS.  If you follow the living God, you will be tested.  There will be risk.  Just think about some of our Old Testament heroes and what they went through.  Jonah was tested with a vacation in a fish.  Noah had to build an ark ("What's a cubit?") while his neighbors laughed at him.  Joshua marched around Jericho (Thank you, VeggieTales, for always making me think of French Peas pouring slurpees on them as they march...) for no apparent reason.  Joseph was ambushed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of hitting on Potiphar's wife and thrown in prison (not to mention losing a technicolor dreamcoat in the process) just to prepare him for what God actually had in mind for him.  Easy street?  Low risk?  I don't think so...

Jesus often taught that in order to make things right, we must first turn them upside down.  He wants us to turn the first into the last, the weak into the powerful, the lost into the found.  But all of that starts with the things we do with our own lives.  If we really want to follow Jesus, we are going to have to get a little WILD!  Psalm 115:3 reminds us that "our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases."  We sing "our God is an awesome God" and then proceed to try to confine God with our own limitations.  His creativity and unpredictability are beyond our comprehension.  Remember Isaiah walking through town naked (Isaiah 20:2-3)?  That was God's idea.  Remember Saul struck blind on the road to Damascus?  God again.  Sacrificing his only Son so that we might live in community with Him?  Only God. 

All of this leads me to wonder about my own life.  I had always prayed for safety, comfort and low-risk opportunities to serve my Savior.  In fact, to be a Jesus Freak is to pray for the opposite.  It is to pray that God would turn my life upside down and lead me to risk everything in the name of the One who saved me.  It is to welcome the trials that God will send my way.  The last 4 years of my life have been such a trial in many ways, and have shown me much.   I believe more and more that the invitation to follow Jesus comes with an "I dare ya!"  They are dares because when we truly follow His example, the people around us will look at us like the boy at lunch who used to eat bugs on a dare.  Jesus dares us to love the way he loved.  He dares to us share meals with the most offensive people around us.  He dares us to believe that all things are possible with Him by our side.  And Jesus dares us to follow- really follow- by taking up our crosses and following Him where He leads instead of constantly begging Him to join us where we are.

Most of us do not hesitate to get on a rollercoaster that travels 90 mph down an 85 degree slope and flips us upside down and corkscrews all around.  We love it.  It excites us.  And once we've experienced it, the merry-go-round does seem pretty lame.  Thus it is with becoming a radical follower of Jesus Christ.  Get risky and try it- I promise you'll never want to be just a "church member" ever again.  Get WILD with Jesus...I dare ya!

Because of Jesus,

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous4/15/2011

    WOW. What a challange, to give all for Jesus. I will need to stew in this one for a while. Thank you. -Kelly B.

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  2. Anonymous4/15/2011

    You are so dead on, Carl. The "prosperity gospel" preached by so many is a lie. Following Jesus is hard, and guarantees nothing in this world- but love. Keep preaching! -Chris Cooper

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  3. Here's the thing about the easy life...most people don't understand when easy happens...when we get to heaven it will be easy...worshiping God all day as it was intended to be in the first place. That will be the easy life...getting there will be the adventure and adventures are generally not easy.

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  4. This has to be one of the very best posts I've ever read...YES! Not a life of ease, but one to please HIM...Boy, this has got me stirred up in faith. Thanks, my friend!!!! :-)

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Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!