Shameless Audacity: The Audacious Request
Sorry for the delay, but we're back today with Cory and nearing the end of Shameless Audacity. If this is your first time here you can check out the chapters you've missed here:
I have to admit, I never imagined that one phrase from one verse from one obscure translation would alter my life to this extent. I fear that I will never be the same again. The prayer has been simple, “Lord, show me what to seek with audacity,” but the answer has been phenomenal. I remember watching some Sports Illustrated “Best Of” video with my step-dad. Along with the Doug Flutie pass and the Miracle on Ice, it showed the famous “phantom punch” delivered by Muhammad Ali to the unsuspecting Sonny Liston. It wasn’t a haymaker that knocked down his opponent, a former heavy weight champion; it was a perfectly timed, perfectly placed punch from an unexpected direction. God has a way with haymakers, but I praise Him for the phantom punches. It is a beautiful reminder that He is beyond my comprehension and that I haven’t figured Him out. A wise old man at seminary always said, “I wouldn’t give a plug nickel for a God I could understand.” I agree.
Seeking that audacious request has been difficult. I like to move. Waiting is not my forte, but I vowed to wait on God to supply the request. As my anxiety grew and grew, and as God seemed to have enacted radio silence, I decided I would just read my Bible (I know, a novel idea!). For some unexplained reason, I felt the overwhelming urge to hear my Savior speak. A friend of mine had just finished a thesis on the commands of Christ, so I decided that was a good place to start. I took the book of Luke and skimmed through the story and searched until I found clearly defined commands for His disciples. Then came the phantom punch. I was waiting and watching for that iconic roundhouse or uppercut and God surprised me with a devastating jab to the jaw.
In Luke 12, Jesus said, “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shall put on. But, seek the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” I wonder if, when Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, He really meant them. Did Jesus really mean that seeking the kingdom of God supersedes being what we would call wise with food, clothing, and shelter? I realize that God is not an idiot and wants us to plan for the future and be wise. God is a God of prudence. Right? As I thought the sentence you just read, I was struck by an eerie feeling. Every time I have heard this verse discussed in my entire life, the justification about God wanting us to be wise has been added. He wants us to seek the kingdom of God first, but… I know that other places in the Bible teach about wisdom in planning for the future, but Jesus did not mention that here. When Solomon spoke of the ant preparing the storehouse for the winter, he spoke as a man in a time of peace with the calling of a king. In Luke, Jesus was speaking to a group of men that had already left there occupations, their families, and their very understanding of how the world should work to follow Jesus. I’m sure Jesus would have not had a problem with Peter wondering what to have for dinner. Jesus was not talking about wisdom or life skills, He was talking about discipleship.
Then I asked myself, “To how many of Jesus’ commands do I add a tag line?” I looked and looked and made an awful discovery. Nearly every time Jesus gave a clear cut command, I gave a justification for not really following that command. Jesus said, “Forgive and you will be forgiven. Don’t forgive and you will not be forgiven.” Ouch. Surely He didn’t mean that “not forgiven” part, or did He? Maybe I should let go of a few grudges. Jesus said, “If you deny Me before men, I will deny you before the angels of God, but if you confess Me to men, I will confess you to the angels of God.” Jesus wants us to witness, but He is ok with us waiting until “the Spirit moves us.” Wait. He didn’t say act like salvation snipers or wait until evangelism falls into our laps. He said, “Confess Me before men.” And would He really deny me? Jesus has never been the “I’m going count to three” kind of parent. He speaks on purpose.
Jesus said, “When you make a meal, don’t eat with those who can help you, but eat with the poor, maimed, and blind.” Then He followed it in the next chapter by eating with the publicans and sinners. When was the last time I purposefully did anything with someone in need? Jesus said, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.” If bearing your cross means what it did to the Romans, then Jesus asks His disciples to be humiliated for Him, to put His message over personal pride and self image. Have I ever carried the cross of shame here in the buckle of the Bible belt?
I felt like Neo in that movie the Matrix. Suddenly the characters hidden in the code began to morph into a clearly defined sequence. Suddenly, like Neo, I knew Kung Fu! Once this code was broken, every chapter and verse jumped from the page. Everything Jesus said was so simple, yet so radical. I can tell you now how to break the code. Learn that there is no code! Do what Jesus says. If we followed Jesus when He says, “Follow Me,” what would happen? Things would change. Retirement plans may change. The address might change. Life would change! Following the radically simple words of Christ would lead to a life crucified with Him yet with Him living through me.
The audacious request became clear as a bell. It is almost annoying that it was so close all along. The request is this: Lord, help me obey Your Word. This is not a request for help with obeying the commands that will make me healthy, wealthy, and wise. This is a request for help with keeping the rigid demands of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. This means obeying the most radical commands without hesitation or justification. This means loving the lost with a passionate love. This means going to any place on the globe He may send me, regardless of how far it may be from family. This means becoming a true disciple of Christ Jesus. This means living every moment with a shameless audacity, constantly begging Jesus to live through me. Is that possible? I’m going to find out.
Already the Spirit has begun moving in my heart. After reading how Jesus wept over Jerusalem, I began asking that He would give me a heart for people. Taking a few bumps from trying to fly before God gave me wings left me cold and cynical to the world and to the ministry. Now, I find that I constantly want to reach the lost. As that prayer has grown, it has turned into a desire to leave the Bible belt and go to places where there is a larger need. It has grown into uneasiness with the status quo, annoyance with going through life without ever touching a leper. There has to be something more than just worshipping with other believers on the weekend. That is wonderful and necessary, but there has to be more. He called me to salvation and, just like every other believer, commanded me to go and tell what happened to my soul. Then, He called me to the work of the Kingdom. He counted me worthy for the ministry of the Gospel. I am an ambassador for Christ. Not some ambassador sitting in some peaceful embassy in some tropical island paradise, proud to have been asked to represent my homeland while tanning. I am an ambassador in a war-torn, broken country with a clear message of hope and love from my eternal homeland. There are potential refugees hiding in alleys, broken and bruised by the heavy hand of their ruthless satanic dictator. They are waiting. They need me to leave the walls of the embassy and carry them back to the safety of the authority of my King. That is audacity. That is the life I was called to live. Jesus said, “There is no man that has left his house, or parents, of brothers, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” I think He meant it.
Lord, If You are for me, who can be against me? Help me to obey Your Word, even if it changes everything.
This entry was posted on Monday, September 24, 2012 and is filed under Faith,Guest Posts,Prayer,Shameless Audacity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.