Safety, comfort, and stability are basic goals for all civilizations. Here in America we’ve perhaps attained those goals closer than any other civilization, past or present. Here’s my question, “For Followers of Jesus, should safety, comfort, and stability be our goals as well?”
I’ve been struck with how flippantly I treat characters in the Bible. I forget how the immortalized cast were just normal people. Normal people who made brave decisions. Then, as today, the status quo was a magnet, sucking everyone back towards "normal" with its’ inertia. It wasn’t easier to be brave in the olden days, just because they were the olden days.
For instance, one of my favorite stories is when Jonathan and his armor bearer boldly attacked the Philistines in the power of the Lord while the rest of the troops cowered in fear back in a cave. Status quo was to cower in fear / Brave decision was to risk ones neck, in faith.
It’s easy for us to gloss over facts like 11 of the 12 apostles were martyred for their faith. "Of course they were," we yawn, "they were super Christians."
When Jesus called men to follow him, they were busy with their own lives – he interrupted them. But we take their decision to leave all as a matter of course, "It was a no-brainer, if someone important as Jesus came along, I’d follow him too. No bigee." Yet Jesus hadn’t performed any miracles yet, who knew then he was the Messiah? Was it common knowledge? I doubt it, Jews still argue over that point today. True, John the Baptist had endorsed him, but my point is these men were making a major life changing decision:
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:16-20)
I wonder, what if Jesus approached me at my job and asked me to up and leave right then, dropping my occupation and everything I was in the middle of doing, would I do that? Could I even do that? After scratching my head, I decide to nod assent and say, "Sure, I suppose I would." But then I think, “What if Jesus is asking that of me now?” Remember the time Jesus said to them all, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me"?
Sounds like a big decision. Life changing.
Are my roots anchored too firmly in the soil of this world to be pliable to God’s call?
We hear about "types of Christ” in the Old Testament. Well, here’s a new twist I thought of: “types of future Saints.” I say Rebekah in the Old Testament is a type of future Saint.
I’m sure you remember the story: Isaac’s Father sends one of his servants back to the homeland to find a bride for his son. Is this not unlike God sending his Holy Spirit to gather a bride for his Son, Christ? In the story, the servant providentially finds Rebekah, who, come to find out, is distant kin to Isaac. He explains who he is, where he’s from, and what his task is: namely, to find a bride for his master’s son Isaac. The servant then asks Rebekah if she will go back with him… now. Rebekah has very little to go on, and little time to think.
Really, what did Rebekah know about Isaac? Practically nothing. Rebekah didn’t get to date Isaac, wasn’t given a two year trial period in which to observe his character – heck, didn’t even get to see a picture! But, in light of the apparent providential hand of God at work, Rebekah made a bold decision: she decided to act in faith and go. She traded all: parents, family, and stability for the unknown. She put her life on the line:
…they called Rebekah and asked her, "Will you go with this man?"
"I will go," she said.
So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. (Gen 24:58-59)
Seems that God’s always been looking for those willing to act counter intuitively, to step out in faith. Remember Noah, willing to undergo ridicule for building an Ark? And David, willing to risk death by fighting Goliath? Or Abraham, going so far as willing to kill his own son because God told him to?
We can become desensitized after hearing these stories a hundred times and forget how life changing and life impacting the decisions were to the real actors in the real narraratives.
From Old Testament to New Testament, true God-followers have never been willing to settle for the status quo. Quite the opposite, they have always been ones who’ve been willing to step out in faith, making the terrifying decisions.