Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Live Dangerously (Part 2)

    Well, my previous post (here) turned out to be one of my post popular articles yet. So, since I didn't put everything I wanted to say into that post due to a lack of time, I thought I'd put out a follow-up post detailing some other things I wanted to say.

    First off, Ryan from over at A Message for the Messenger shot me a quick email bringing up something I had thought of but hadn't addressed. Hebrews 11 brings up an incredible number of what we as Christians would consider the heroes of the faith. The first half of the chapter details all these incredible tales of faith, courage, and miracles. We walk away from v. 1-34 feeling like we could walk on water and swim through land. Seriously, v. 33 says that they, through faith, "conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight."

    That's quite a list of incredible things, times God came through for His people in incredible ways. Think of David's mighty men. These were men who God used so mightily that He would use a single man to turn back an entire army. Samson who God used to crush the power of the Philistines. Or Gideon who God raised up in order to annihilate the Midianite hordes with a tiny band of farmers. Moses, a terrible public speaker, who stands up and defies the Pharoah in his very own thrown room. Joshua, who marched a nomadic group of fearful men into a land dominated by over 30 different kingdoms, and destroyed them. David, a teenager who killed a giant, then turned warlord who dominated the war-torn region of Canaan for forty years. Shadrach and his friends who walk through flames with the Son of God and testify before world conquerors of His greatness.

    But then the chapter changes focus. The final six verses are much less up-lifting and much more sobering. Rather than listing a long list of miracles and great acts of valor and victory, we see instead a list of tortures, stonings, beatings, mockings, imprisonment, and martyrdoms. Horrific tortures and terrible deaths, listed and catalogued for us to read.

    "But, Taylor," you say, "you said God will come through for us if we trust Him." I did say He'd come through for you. But not necessarily in the way you meant. Or wished. God never promised to fulfill your desires, but His.

    We place ourselves in a position of risk, positions that place our comfort and security outside the realm of our control, and then what? We wait on God. We rest in Him, and the knowledge of His goodness. Yes, that includes the terrible thing listed in Heb. 11.

    When I say that God will come through for you, I don't mean He is my celestial errand-boy who I summon for aid whenever I'm in over my head. Rather, we should knowingly place ourselves in positions of risk that demand God's aid, and if He chooses to give it in the manner I would rather, excellent; and if not, it is to His glory, that He might be preeminent in all things!

    So, how can we focus on doing risky things, crazy things even, for Jesus if we're not guaranteed safety, just His presence? Well, the author apparently is following the same thought process because, as chapter 11 closes, chapter 12 opens with these words in v. 2. "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart."

    How can we keep hope when we place ourselves at risk? 1.) Fix your eyes on Jesus. Imitate Him. Follow Him. Watch His every movement.

    I was out running tonight in training for upcoming World Championships, and I began thinking about training. What do I use to motivate me? I mean, seriously, I've pushed until I've cried, thrown up, bled, and so on. What is it that pushes me to do that?

    On a lesser level, it's things like family and friends. I push myself for them. They're praying for me, they're encouraging me, I owe them this. On a larger scale is my pride and my country. This competition, I'm representing my country against other countries. My country is relying on me to train my hardest and do my best.

    But, the ultimate reason I train so hard is for one simple reason... I want to win! I want the medal! The prize is worth it the blood, the vomit, and the sweat that I've invested. The risk of losing or injury is worth it to me because the prize is worth having.

   But how much sweeter is Jesus Christ! So the first method of staying the course and daring greatly for God is to fix our eyes on Jesus. Adore Him. Emulate Him. Study Him. Fix our eyes on Him.

    The next method? 2.) Consider Him. Think about the cross. Never let the gospel fade out of your mind, because without it, our focus switches to something else, something less important. And when we consider the cost to Jesus that His death cost Him, it puts the cost of our own abandonment to Him in perspective.

    So, God calls us to live dangerously, like the men I listed earlier. It may mean God will use you to accomplish great things for Him, like Joshua or David. Or it may be that you'll die at 15 like Rachel Scott at Columbine High School, before you get the chance to do those "great" things you've dreamed of.

    But it's not about the size of the things we do for Christ. It's the service, the love, that counts. It's our love for God, our desire to serve Him, and our fixed consideration of the gospel and of Jesus Christ that pushes us to hazard all to follow Him.


  1. Wow. This is just as incredible as the first post, if not more so!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement! It's nice to know that maybe this writing can help someone!

  2. I second what Cassie said! This was outstanding!

    1. Thank you, Lauren! I appreciate the encouragement!