We're riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh-oh Thunder Road oh Thunder Road..." ~ Springsteen
When talking about the #NarrowRoad that we walk when following Jesus we often think of it as peaceful and serene place, a place where we walk in quiet solitude. This is not always the case, and scripture makes this very clear. Over the weekend I was reminded of this and also of one of the greatest nicknames ever bestowed upon human beings. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 3, we read a synopsis of Jesus calling the 12 disciples. If you are like me, the disciple you can relate to the most is Simon Peter- because he was as big a screw-up as we are, yet Jesus built the church on his faith. Who wouldn't love to be a Simon Peter? But also among the 12 are the brothers James & John, the sons of Zebedee. Let me press pause and say that if the story ended there, James & John would already be awesome, because Zebedee may be the best name ever! I would have fought to name my son Zebedee, but I enjoyed living with my wife and didn't want to spend all of my time praying to the patron saint of lost causes. Still, just being the sons of Zebedee would have been cool enough. But Jesus gave them a nickname that transformed them into rock stars. He called them "Boanerges," which means Sons of Thunder. While no explanation is given in scripture, it is assumed by scholars (and me!) that this nickname was a reference to their bold and zealous personalities - illustrated by a later incident in which they wanted to "call down fire from heaven" to destroy the people of a Samaritan village who had refused to allow Jesus and His apostles to pass through on their way to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-56). These guys knew what it meant to be passionate for Jesus. They had the fire in their eyes. These guys understood that the #NarrowRoad sometimes needs to be Thunder Road!
And clearly their Master appreciated this in the two brothers. James & John were always there (along with Peter) when Jesus needed his "inner circle." James would go on to be the first of the disciples to be martyred (Acts 12:2) and John would write his "revelation" from prison on the island of Patmos. These were men who gave their lives to Christ, not just in word, but in deeds- in big, honkin', passionate deeds.
So it seems to me that walking the #NarrowRoad may require us to be a part of a 21st century chapter of the Sons of Thunder. This would be a group of believers who understand that following Jesus is everything. They would understand that being a people of love, grace and peace is not a weakness, but a bold stance for our Savior in this world we live in. The modern Sons of Thunder would be a radical presence for Jesus in our communities and a passionate thorn in the side of the institutional church. I am not much of a joiner, but this is a group I want to be a part of- and soon! How about you? The team would be filled with folks (male & female!) with the cajones to call down fire from heaven when the occasion calls for it. To join is to understand that if Jesus were walking the earth today he would be hanging out with the most unlikely people, demanding peace and justice, confronting false idols and fake teachers and calling us to do the same. Accepting such a call is not without risk. Your passion may offend your neighbors and other Christians. Your churches may be among the first to disown you. The love and grace you offer to others may baffle them. You will almost certainly be called upon to sacrifice for the cause. You may receive a vision from God that will confuse people for the next 2000 years. But when it comes to following Jesus, I am ready to make some noise. It's time to bring the thunder...
Let's be bold together and change the world. Let's be radicals for Christ. The 1st century Sons of Thunder helped turn their world upside down. A modern version could do the same. If you're in, leave me a comment and let me know. Seriously. It's going to be a wild ride on the #NarrowRoad. And we're going to have AWESOME t-shirts...
Because of Jesus,