Not long ago I was riding my bike on the N. Custer path along the river while talking to someone on my cell phone. I came up on someone from my church, slowed down, my right hand holding the phone, my other hand on the left handle of my bike. My bike came to a full stop. I then fell over and landed flat on my left side, the bike on top of me, still clutching my cell phone. I looked up at my friend from church and said, “Hi.”
I feel certain this is not a safe thing to do, so I now recommend it to no one. But also, I wish now to recommend “safety” to no one, at least if this means that the purpose of your life is, at all costs, to take no risks and avoid danger. This is why I like the Real Jesus. For me, following Jesus is mostly about life, joy, purpose, meaning, risk, adventure, and danger. If your idea of Christianity is “boredom,” take note: that’s not actual Christianity. Boredom has nothing to do with Jesus, actually. Why?
Because Jesus is all about spreading the message of his kingdom, aka the “kingdom of God.” That’s why he was born. That’s what Jesus taught about and demonstrated by healing people and delivering them from demonic oppression. And that’s why Jesus went to the cross. Years ago I enlisted with Jesus to do these things. It’s taken me all over the world, and it’s given me my home base in Monroe.
In Mark 6:30 we read this: The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. And what, precisely, did they do and teach? They taught about Jesus and his kingdom, and they demonstrated that Jesus is King by healing people and setting them free from demonic oppression. Sounds boring, right? I don’t think so.
What’s very important to know when it comes to Jesus is this: God loves people and wants to show us the things of his beautiful kingdom, about life, real life, full life, as it was always meant to be and one day will be. The heart of God is a heart of love. So, for me, when I have the invitation to talk to someone about Jesus, these are the kind of things I share with them. And I tell them what God has done for me. For me, it’s an invitation to enter into the love and joy of God.
It’s also risky and dangerous. Jesus got killed for it. For me, it’s like this. (I am taking what follows from Erwin McManus’s challenging book about Jesus The Barbarian Way.) In the movie “Braveheart” Mel Gibson plays William Wallace who rallies his Scottish clansmen to fight for liberation from England. Robert the Bruce was the Scottish noble who betrayed Wallace – Bruce eventually did lead Scotland to freedom, freedom that Wallace fought for. Robert the Bruce had a strange request shortly before his death. He wanted his heart removed upon death and taken on a crusade by a worthy knight. James Douglas, one of his closest friends, stepped up to the task. The heart was embalmed and placed in a small container that Douglas wore around his neck. In every battle that Douglas fought he literally carried the heart of his king with him – pressed against his chest.
In the spring of 1330 Douglas sailed to Spain in a campaign against the Moors. In one battle Douglas found himself surrounded and facing imminent death. In that moment Douglas reached for the heart of Robert the Bruce and flung it into the enemy’s midst and cried out “Fight for the heart of your king!”
To belong to God is to belong to His heart. If you identify yourself as a follower of Jesus, if you have responded to the call of Jesus to leave everything and follow him, then there is a voice within you crying out “Fight for the heart of your king!” To me this is important, because a lot of “Christianity” has moved from being a tribe of renegades and adventurers to a religion of conformists. Following Jesus means a lot more than having assigned seating in a pew. It means that you must be ready to participate in an insurrection to overthrow evil. Put simply, the call of Jesus is a revolutionary call to fight for the heart of humanity.
I don’t know how this sounds to you. Theologically and biblically it seems correct to me. And I was thinking about these things this morning as I was riding north from our church building on Telegraph Road, holding the left handle with my left hand, and holding my digital camera in my right hand. Here’s a shot of me about to turn north onto Telegraph.