Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Radical is Wrecking Us


We've been listening to David Platt's "Radical" series.

I couldn't write yesterday.

I don't really want to write today either. My head is still spinning. But I think it would be good to stop and share some stuff. I have to constantly remind myself that the process is where I see Jesus. It's where we admit we have a hard time with the teachings of Christ, with saying no to our flesh. I never want to be one of those people who only display the finished product or the parts that finally said "yes" to Jesus. I wish we could all wiggle our noses and be more Christ like. The truth is...this journey is a rocky one at times. It's difficult. Yet God is evident in all the places between "here" and "there."

Our lives feel like they are turning upside down right now. You know, like the Kamikaze ride at the carnival? Like that. But there's less screaming, more crying, just as much nausea.

We're ashamed that it has taken us this many years of studying God's Word to ask one simple question...

"What if...and I know this sounds crazy....but what if Jesus means what He says?"

I mean for real. What if He means exactly what He says?

"You can't be my disciple unless you give up everything to follow me."

"Give to the poor."

"It's really hard for rich people to go to heaven."

"This is what TRUE religion looks like...care for the orphan and the widow. Keep yourself from being polluted by the world."

And yet how long have I claimed to follow Jesus and ignored the things He says?

Too long.

How many times have I said, "Well...that's what He says, but that can't be what He means?"

Too many times.

As if God, the author of communication lacks in His ability to communicate clearly?

Aaron and I have cried many tears over the last few days.

I don't think we're anywhere near done.

We're asking hard questions...make my stomach burn kind of questions...

Are we generous?

Do we need to sell our house?

Do we need to leave this country?

Do we care about the poor?

Do we love them?

Heck...do we even know anyone who is poor?

Does anyone poor even live in the US?

Do we care about the widow?

Do we serve them?

Do we care about the orphan?

Do we spend our lives defending them?

Lots of questions. We have so many questions.

When Jesus called the disciples He said..."Come, follow me." Immediately they left their boat (livelihood) and their father (family) and followed Him.

If Jesus asked me to do those things, would I?

We hate all the answers to those questions.

My "boat" is so full of crap that I love...I mean tons and tons of shiny, sparkly, soft stuff that I love. Could I turn away from it, leave it behind and follow Jesus?

What gets me most is this:

Until last week, I would have thought that living wholeheartedly for Jesus was what happens when you get older...grow deeper in your faith...walk with Jesus longer. I would have thought that living radically for Jesus is something that grew on you...like a fruit.

And yet, this is how Jesus introduces Himself to others in scripture...

"Hi. I'm Jesus. Give up everything you have...leave it all behind...even your family if need be...let go of all the things you're so attached to...and come follow me. Nice to meet you."

David Platt mentions that when Jesus says this crazy stuff in scripture (this isn't all the crazy stuff He says, just a few things) that He's not talking to seminary students, or elders, or people longing to go "a little deeper." He says those things during the introductory class to Christianity.

The saddest part of all...

Until last week, I thought I was pretty awesome.

I mean...I knew I had faults. I knew I "struggled." I knew I was a work in progress. I knew I was a big fat sinner in need of God's grace every day of my life.

But I could list you a whole ton of reasons why I thought I was following hard after Jesus even though none of those reasons would have been criteria for being a follower of Christ. Instead, we wanted a sticker for doing things like teaching our kids God's Word. We're doing Lent for heaven's sake. Someone put us on a poster. I'm laughing at myself!

I'm not saying those aren't good things. What I'm saying is those things are probably bottom shelf stuff for people who love Jesus. The things I've held onto as evidence that I'm following Jesus seem like dirty rags to me today.

At one point I could throw down all the "evidences of God's grace" in my life like nobody's business.

Today, the only evidence of grace I see in my life is this...

I'm still alive. He still calls me His own, even though I am living in absolute disobedience to just about everything clear and big scripture teaches about what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus. All the big things Jesus tells me to care about...I hardly care about those things. I don't spend my life caring for the poor, the widow or the orphan. The truth is, I have given up very little to follow Jesus, and my life on the outside looks very similar to the world around me. God has changed a lot of my insides, but the way we spend our money, the way we love ourselves and avoid the very people God says we're to spend our lives caring for is heartbreaking to me. Not only do I not serve them, I don't even think of them.

Works will never save us. I know that. God's gift of salvation is free. We're just admitting that maybe we've never really counted the cost to follow Jesus, like scripture commands.

I can't tell you how hard this series has been on us as a couple...but it is changing us, and for that I'm thankful. How terrible would it have been to live in this deception forever? How gracious is the Lord to teach us these things now? I've never been more aware of His grace, His mercy and how slow He is to anger.

We're not totally sure what sort of changes God is going to call us to make. But right now it's feeling like it might be something drastic.

Drastic scares me.

I highly recommend listening to the series below. (I'm laughing thinking about how crazy you'd have to be to listen to the series after I just said all this terrifying stuff...oh yes, Heather...sign me up to have my life all jacked up.) I recommend getting your friends to listen with you so you can work out all the things Jesus teaches in community.

I would be losing my mind right now if it wasn't for the people close to us who have listened to this series, are yearning to follow Jesus on His terms, admitting with us our weaknesses, our need for faith, our need for Jesus, crying with us, praying with us, talking about these things with one another, and seeking to live out the beauty of scripture.

Jesus, teach us to live. To truly live.

12 comments:

Diane said...

i have learn along my journey with God that when He brings me to a change in my life sometimes He wants me to give up or be willing to do the things He is showing me. Then sometimes He says "Ok you willing to give up "___" now you can keep it or you willing to go to foreign places "well you can stay here" (I think God has a sense of humor becasue I saying BUT GOD I am giving this to you and He says fine BUT I am giving it back. Growth is hard- Changing is hard. Birth pain-growing pains!!! Praying for your family as God show you HIS PLANS

Kirby said...

Yep...I have a long, dirty email in my head ready to tell David Platt all the reasons why he is ruining my life.

I listened to #2 today. This was even harder for me than the first--maybe because I started honestly answering questions this time.

After listening today, I left feeling sad like the rich man...like maybe I didn't want to follow Jesus. And that's where I'm at. Asking Him to make my heart ready to follow Him...ready to accept the cost.

mandy foster said...

can you share the link to the series? i am intrigued to listen.

Brock & Megs Birkenfeld said...

One of the things that has stuck out to me the most is when he called his disciples to leave everything, they did. No questions, no prayer, no wise counsel, no nothing. They just got up and left.

It is still just blowing my mind.. they just did it. They just did what he said. Period.

Hendrick Family said...

Mandy,

Here's the link to the whole series:

http://www.brookhills.org/media/series/radical/

If that link does not work go down to the post right below this one and click on the image that says, "Radical." It will take you to the whole series.

The first one alone gave me a lifetime's worth of things to think about, pray about and talk with others about.

Enjoy!

Heather

Ryan and Cate Shipley said...

We're listening to them in the Shipley household, too, and it is most definitely rocking our world, causing us to fall on our faces before the Lord- I am utterly ashamed of my disobedience....yesterday and today have been hard days...

I feel ruined...and I'm only on Sermon #2....

Holly Southerland said...

Heather, thank you for this post. It is encouraging and challenging. I am so with you on a lot of those things.... asking Him and leaning in close to hear what He would say for my life personally, not jumping off the boat wildly, ready to 'go save all the heathen.' It is hard. Jesus is worth it. I am thankful He is pleased with every little step of faith. You have not altogether missed it. He has celebrated every step you have taken and now is introducing a new step. He will be intimately with you in the process :)

These are a few quotes that are encouraging to me about faith.

"Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely,
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
...Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
-Sir Francis Drake

"to live pursuing the impossible and failing is far more rewarding than living to succeed at what is predictable and under my control"

"Would to God we had in contemporary Christianity a more potent infusion of this heroic faith in God. If we would venture more upon the naked promise of God, we would enter a world of wonders to which as yet we are strangers."

“The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it His presence and His promise.”
Brennan Manning

“I would rather step out in reckless faith and end up looking stupid than be bound with a cautious spirit of fear and unbelief and miss the possibility of God doing a miracle.”
Alan Vincent

Anonymous said...

Aaron and Heather:

I love all y'all!! Praying for you on your radical journey and loving that I get to see it! Everytime I would come to your blog the sermon would start and I would stop it because I thought, "No way...I know what it is doing to them I'm not listening....lalalalalala (with my fingers in my ears)

But I would constantly hear, don't just listen to the word do what it says. As you know things are happening with me that have humbled me.

So this morning with the late start I am listening to session 1...somehow I think I will be crying ALOT.

Debi

The Lourceys said...

You know what's crazy? I've been sitting here listening to the first one and trying to explain away things that he's saying like, "Oh, Jesus didn't really mean that," or, "There's more to the gospel than just helping the poor." And while that might be true these are verses I've disregarded my entire 19 years of my Christian walk. What the heck?! I know the verse in James about looking after widows and orphans but I don't do that. I'm not even sure I know a widow! This makes me sad. It makes me really sad. Much grace has been shown to me today. I am eager for my husband to listen as well and for us to hear all of them but honestly I could think on this first one for days... I feel like my head is spinning. I'm actually starting to think that maybe I have a wrong view of God... or maybe I choose to only see one side of God. Thanks for sharing not only the sermon but your heart and your questions. We're all going to be stretched, broken and encouraged together, spurring one another on to love and good deeds.

Yankee Mama said...

I want to listen. Thanks for sharing the link.

Charlie said...

I know several things after listening to a couple of these sermons:

I want God's blessings and the things He promises without truly wanting Jesus.

I want to do good things, another level of good things even, call it piety or evidence of grace in my life, and then stay there believing that I have arrived — rather than love Jesus and follow him.

I am training my children to be perfect people and to memorize God's word rather than training them to live out the grace we have in Christ and love and obey God's word. I spend exceedingly more time standing, dictating commands and delivering discipline to my children than walking out before them the calling of Jesus. I feel like a spiritual Mark Mangino. And we know what God says about that.

I have given and received more silly interpretations of God's word than a clear revealing of or pointing to God's word. Things such as:

"Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but he never said you had to let them hit you." (All the while, in the same passage, he does say you are to give them your tunic and your cloak; carry their stuff the first mile then carry it another.)

And, I'm really sorry, Diane, but I have to say that there is one instance in the Bible where God said that someone (Abraham) was willing to give up (kill) something (Isaac, his son, a human, image-bearing life, a soul) and he blessed him and gave it back. I'm sure that Diane's intentions were good. But we cannot take scripture — God's holy, active, life-giving, life-shaping, life-clarifying word — and bend it to say what we want or what we hope for: to stay somewhere comfortable, to eat to our delight/fill, to bask in riches and luxury. Abraham knew God and believed God.

That's the biblical truth we take from that passage. The law has been fulfilled in Christ. So we take those Old Testament, law-centric passages, with full view of Christ (what was kept hidden for ages, but now has been made known) and see fully what those people did in response to God and what God did in response to their response.

And we know that Abraham believed and obeyed God and that God counted it to him as righteousness and blessed him for a thousand generations (+20,000 years to get an idea) — as he promises to do.

I'm praying for eyes to see and hears to hear. For us and for those who we know are wrestling through this. I'm terrified at how quickly I want someone to soothe my itching ears with watered-down word of God. I'm terrified to sprint into the gospel of good works rather than follow Jesus. But, I'm also terrified to take this one talent he has given me, bury it, keep it safe, show him how I didn't lose it one day and he take it, give it to the one who had 10 talents and throw me into hell.

Narrow road indeed. Praise the Lord that he says to "ask, seek and knock" and that we will "be given, find and the door will be opened." I can rest during this unrest in my heart.

Grace Family said...

Oh, this is shaking us up too! I am anxious, nervous, excited, scared to death and worried about where this is going to take me as a believer and the 4 of us as a family. I feel a change coming... a BIG one... and I'm not a real fan of change!

Thanks for sharing this... thanks for your honesty and your true heart. Praise God for his mighty word and the Godly people he has appointed to teach and share it!