Thursday, September 26, 2013 fail

Wow, when I decided to insert this video, I had no idea I would wind up with a ginormous picture of Francis Chan at the top of my entry.  Anyhoo...

A while back I heard a radio interview with Chris Plekenpol, a former Army Captain who began ministering to a homeless man, and eventually offered him a place to stay.  His book Stumbling Souls, explains the transformation he experienced.  A short time after that, my Bible study read Crazy Love, by Francis Chan.  If you haven't yet clicked on the life-sized link, the foundation of Chan's book is the incredible, crazy love God has for us, and what happens when we begin to demonstrate that love toward others.  Other challenging books I've recently read were Same Kind of Different As Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, and Radical, by David Platt.  The message I get from all of these books is: Are you ready to go out and do something different, do something obedient, do something out of real love?

Since then, I've read C.S. Lewis, John Piper, Tim Heller, Steve Brown, etc., etc.  I've listened to countless sermons by Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, Dr. Oliver B. Green and of course, my own pastor.  The message I get from these folks is: Are you ready to fail?

I don't think anybody stares face to face with a challenge, prepared to fail, but I believe those of us who are indeed trying to live by the direction of the Holy Spirit, need to seriously consider this outcome. 

For instance, Jesus never called folks to go buy some sheep on credit -- live in victory!  He never said, "The public is really gonna love your stance on not cheating the poor."  His very own cousin wound up a party favor -- his head anyway -- a victim of Herod's drunken machismo.  And what was with the outfit?  I'm sure GQ or Oprah would not call John the Baptist for interviews, were he around today.  Maybe Springer.  By the world's standards, many of Jesus' followers were losers -- exiled, beaten, stoned, beheaded, boiled -- and those are just some of the ones recorded in the Bible.  What about those in less than ancient history? Jim Elliot, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, victims of the Nag Hammadi massacre, those sitting in prisons today!  Untold numbers imprisoned, discriminated against, disowned by families, starved.  Following the way of Jesus is not easy, nor is it popular.

As a kid, one of my favorite shows was Batman.  Every episode, Batman or Robin would find themselves victims of some loathsome villain and his or her despicable, but imbecilic sidekicks.  As Batman struggled to get free, the villains would laugh maniacally and nod to one another, assured of success this time.  But this was Batman; he was a super-hero; he could do anything.  And in minutes he would be free, BIFF-ing and BAM-ing his way out of the crooked lair and setting everything right for the citizens of Gotham City. 

Well, this is no Gotham City, and sometimes "heroes" fail, and sometimes "heroes" suffer.  If I truly desire to obey God's will, I have to accept whatever He has in store.  Reputation, image, popularity, and success are ideas that depend on human existence to even have any value.  The results of humility and faithful obedience are much larger than my life in the here and now.  As Jesus demonstrated almost 2000 years ago, the victory of the Christian life is not always the victory of today.  Sometimes it comes later... 

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