Turning a Deaf Ear to the "American Way"
Jesus often violated turf rules. He engaged enemies. He loved them. We draw lines. We create boundaries. We are thoroughbreds. Others are mutts. We can't live without our rigid social rankings.
But Jesus was willing to break societal rules. He gave without expecting a return. He invited but never coerced. His obedience and love mock our social boxes. He was willing to embrace the towel. He chose compassion over personal ambition.
What social boxes are keeping you from serving the kingdom? What kind of turf rules would you be willing to break? To what extent does personal ambition drive you? How specifically are you pursuing kingdom principles?
My 10-day trip to the Middle East starts tomorrow. It will be a test for me in many ways. It is another opportunity to focus on the meaning of the cross and discipleship. No hocus-pocus involved here. It's just a call to walk in the way of Jesus. When I was a teenager I thought this meant going barefooted and having long hair. Today I'm finding that the call to discipleship is more expensive. It demands that I turn a deaf ear to the seductive force of materialism and the "American Way."
Perhaps the main question is this: What is my passion in life? Am I willing to defy the pull of upward mobility? Can I serve the Lord in places where most U.S. citizens would consider unreachable? Am I ready to use my position and talents to advance God's agenda in this world?
The fact is, I care deeply about my own comfort. Jesus shocks me. He was an upside-down Messiah. We tried to imitate Him in the 1960s, but the Jesus Movement was often a sad parody. I want to do better today. Jesus is inviting us to join the movement. The Scriptures are clear. We're asked to sell and give all, to serve, to go; to endure suffering without complaint or bitterness; to demonstrate that the towel is greater than the sword.
Are we truly willing to devote our energies to embrace the service of this Jesus? Even as Americans? We are called to salute a new King. His kingdom transcends human boundaries. We pledge allegiance to the Lamb and Him alone. We pray, "Your kingdom come."
What difference would it make in your life if you viewed the kingdom of God in this way? What does it mean to be a revolutionary for Jesus? Is it really possible to eradicate the boxes we put people in, including our so-called "enemies"? In what ways can we become truly countercultural?
I do not have the answers to these questions. But they will be on my mind as I wing my way to a faraway desert. May God help us all become kingdom Christians and turn a deaf ear to the sinful world that seduces us into thinking that the "Good Life" is what it's all about.
August 3, 2010
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.