So on the recommendation of a friend I am reading The Barbarian Way by Ervin McManus (he has always been a favorite author). I’m not that far in, but I have been really digging into this book. He began to talk about John (the Baptist not the apostle) as he was in prison and sent people to ask Jesus, “Are you the one?” This has always been a part of the Bible that really intrigued me because it is one of those times when these larger than life people is doing something very human–having doubts.
So McManus begins to walk through the passage and suddenly I see where he is heading, and suddenly I see the truth in the scripture and suddenly I am floored. Jesus’ response to John wasn’t “Here look at all of these things and see my power now be comforted” in the sense that I had always thought it before. It wasn’t “I can do these things for these people, just look at what I am going to do for you.” No, go back and read Matthew 11:4-6 and see again what Jesus is saying. He is saying, “I am God, I am the Messiah, and I am doing some really amazing things, but I’m not coming to save you.”
This is how McManus put it: “John, I’m not coming through for you. I’m not getting you out of prison. I’m not sparing your life. Yes, I have done all of this and more for others, but the path I choose for you is different for theirs. You’ll be blessed, John, if this does not cause you to fall away.”
Wow! Where is that message in the Christian bubble that most of us live in? Sometimes God doesn’t come through. Sometimes, God has chosen for us to suffer, for us to even die. Sometimes God says, I have called you to follow me, let me lead you where I see fit, not where you most want to go.
It seems to me that most of the time when we are talking in our churches we gloss over this truth. We have preached that God want to bless us so much that we have turned Christianity into a life about us and about our blessings and have turned it away from being a relationship with a God who is far beyond anything we can ever imagine and who has called us not to sit and be content, but to continually be taking His love to the ends of the earth, no matter what the cost.
There is no wonder that many people are afraid to “get outside of the comfort zone” most of what we preach to them is that God is all about their comfort.
So how does this idea that God could be calling you to follow him right into your death fit in to our new way of evangelizing. How do you work that into a nice tract to hand out on the beach?