Today is the final chapter of Shameless Audacity with Cory Page. I want to encourage you to go back and read it from the beginning if you haven't already. You can find the other chapters here.
Since writing the last chapter, my life has completely changed and not really changed at all. I still live in the small town, I still work with this ministry, I still write at the same coffee shop too many times a week, but something
is different. Let me explain.
Before this journey began, I felt hopeless. I thought to myself, “If this is Christianity, you can have it back.” I know that looks horrible in print, but it is the truth. There has always been an enormous discrepancy between the Christianity I see in the Bible and the Christianity I see in modern day USA. When someone was saved in the New Testament, they immediately began telling anyone that would listen. When someone was saved, they passionately joined a church. There was not a trial period of working in small, sometimes menial, ministries before they were trusted to do “real” ministries. When someone was saved, even if they were a good person, they were changed. I looked at my life and did not see a changed man. I could just as easily have been mistaken for a really good lost person.
In Matthew 19, a rich young man came to Jesus. He said, “What do I need to do to have some of the eternal life you’re peddling?” Jesus said, “Keep the commandments.” “Which one?” the man replied. Jesus answered, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your parents, and love your neighbors as yourself.” The young man quickly explained that he kept each of these. “What do I still need?” he asked. At this point, Jesus did what Jesus does. He blew our minds. Jesus looked at the inquisitive young man and said, “If you want to be perfect, sell what you have, give it to the poor, and follow Me.”
There is a reason it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. There is a reason this young man left disappointed. It is hard to choose what is uncomfortable for what is comfortable, what doesn’t make sense for what does. The riches are not the problem. The Bible clearly says that it is the love of money that is the root of all evil, not the money itself. The love of money is the love of comfort. It is true what they say: Mo money, mo problems. The more stuff you have, the more comfortable you are. The more comfortable you are, the harder it is to leave the comfort. Christianity is uncomfortable.
I can hear you now. “This is a very fatalistic view of Christianity. We can be Christian and still be comfortable. We shouldn’t feel guilty about being born in 21st century America.” Well, yes and no. We can live with comforts that most of the world lives without. Worrying about how I flush more drinking water down the toilet in one sitting than most people on the earth drink in a day will not change my gallons per flush. I do not mean to be fatalistic. I am not saying that Christianity will always take everyone to some disease ridden third world country in the middle of a bloody civil war. I am saying, however, that Christianity is always uncomfortable.
My spirit has been made new by the Spirit, but I still reside in this sinful body. It will be made new in the end, but until then, I will always be faced with a choice between what is comfortable for my flesh and what is right for my spirit. In a very simplistic way, there are greater revivals in poorer places because it is easier to choose God when a person is less comfortable. On a daily basis, I don’t have to choose between joining rebel forces that will rape and pillage and choosing God. That is a no brainer with any amount of Spirit, and if we have some Spirit, we have all of the Spirit. In my world, I have to choose between witnessing to that person and checking Facebook. The worldly option doesn't have immediate and dire consequences. When you choose between separate ends of the spectrum, the choice is easy. Do you believe in torture or not? Easy. Of course torture is wrong. But, when the choices move closer to the center of the spectrum, the decision becomes more difficult. Do you believe in water boarding, something that is cruel but not permanent, or not? Let’s keep going. Do you believe inmates are being tortured if they do not have access to cable television? Now, instead of just answering the question, we must define that which was obvious on the ends of the spectrum: what is torture?
The wealthier you are the closer to the center you are. How then, in modern day America where we have the fattest poor people in the world and people with cell phones and two cars are still considered impoverished, can any of us ever be what God wants us to be? Jesus’ disciples had the same question in Matthew 19. They asked, “Who then can be saved?” If truly following Christ is the means to salvation, who can truly follow Christ? Jesus said, “With men, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”
Jesus did not give the rich young man an impossible task that would make him an example of elitism for all eternity. Jesus was not trying to differentiate between the 1% and the 99%. Jesus gave the man a task that would lead him to the same place the friend of Luke 12 found himself. Jesus wanted to move the man to a place of shameless audacity. The rich young man needed be willing to own his disgrace despite having earthly reason for prestige, accept God as the Father of his life despite being capable of creating great earthly wealth, seek God for a need despite the ability to discern between good investments and bad, have an arrogant disregard for how things should be and instead choose the audacious path of following a preaching carpenter, seek the third level of faith that bases faith on
God’s abilities and not man’s logic, and accept grace.
I am a rich young ruler. Truly becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ seems impossible. But, though it is impossible for me, all things are possible with God. Serving God with a shameless audacity makes it possible. Shameless audacity is not based on my ability, but on my ability to accept God’s ability. I no longer want to give Christianity back. I no longer view it as an impossible and frustrating task designed to create unending guilt. It is a beautiful and glorious thing. It is the process of me learning to follow God with a shameless audacity. It is the process of me becoming like Christ.
*Thank you, Cory, for sharing your heart and your journey with us! I so appreciate the honesty in this last post. If you've enjoyed this series be sure to connect with Cory on Twitter, or through MinistryMall.org.*