Three days. That is how long I wrestled with God about my last blog post. A fire rising from the deep center of my being surfaced and spilled hot lava.
I argued with God, read scripture, prayed, asked for counsel and prayed some more. I told God it would offend people and pointed out (as if God didn’t already know) that I would lose friends and alienate readers. Silence—Waiting—More prayer. God brought James 1:5-8 to mind. (Ironically James 1 begins with, “Trials and Temptations.” You know that part about considering it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.)
God reminded me how Jesus was spat on, beaten, mocked and hung on the cross—out of obedience. That was it! That was what God was asking of me. Obedience. I knew publishing that post would offend religious people, some dear friends and most loyal republicans. Then God asked, “What are you willing to give up for me? Will you listen and obey if I tell you to post it anyway?”
Many years ago, God called me out of my tenured teaching job. My mother thought I was crazy, my colleagues told me I had lost my mind. “Why would you walk away at this point in your career?” The simple answer was, “Because God asked me to.” I had no plan B. No GPS and no direction other than, “Leave.” When I wrestled with God that time (I wrestle with God often apparently) God asked me, “What will you miss most about your teaching job?” Choking on my tears I whispered, “My students.” I loved my students and my job as a Special Education teacher. I was comfortable, satisfied, and happy where I was. Why would God take me out of my comfort zone? The answer to the question was the same back then as it is today. Would I be obedient to His call even if I didn’t know the reason or like the results?
I believe the American church teaches Christians to do their best to be perfect, follow the rules and not rock the boat. But here’s the rub. Jesus came to set us free from trying to be the perfect “rule followers.” He pointed out to the Pharisees that on the outside they appeared to have it all together, but on the inside—well, things were a bit off. (If you want real hot lava—read Matthew 23.)
My point is, Christians in America are too comfortable—too nice out of fear of offending people. In addition, we Christians take offense too easily. (See me confessing and raising my hand here.) Sadly, the American church worships other gods like politicians and politically-backed church leaders. We are too concerned about not upsetting the church and other identifying Christians, that we don’t stand for what Jesus stood for.
God is calling us to Holy Boldness. Unless we stand firm in our faith—unless we lay it all down for our Lord—unless we give up what we love most; we are not true disciples of Jesus. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:25. (The word “hate” here is an Aramaic and Hebraic metaphor for putting Jesus above every other relationship. The Aramaic word “sna” has several meanings and can mean “hate” or “put aside.” In this case, Jesus, the King of love is not saying to hate but to put aside every other relationship into second place. The meaning becomes quite clear in the Aramaic language. – Notes from The Passion Translation Bible.)
If I cannot be obedient to the call (whatever that may be at the time) then I’m not a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Yet, if I lay it all down and risk offending people for the sake of who Jesus/Holy Spirit is and what the Gospel stands for, then maybe—just maybe—I am on the edge of a miracle and the Kingdom of God has come near.
I have no idea why Holy Spirit set my words on fire. I only know that despite the results—I need to do what God asks me to do.
Is God calling you to Holy Boldness? Or, is your allegiance to some other god?
*Photo by Alison Pang on Unsplash