The Seed Blog: White Knuckles
Most people know that I use to be a Deputy Sheriff before coming to West Virginia. And in the various physical altercations in which I was involved, there was one lesson we learned very quickly—the most dangerous man that we ever had to face; the toughest, fiercest, opponent we ever fought—was not the biggest muscle-bound guy; not the baddest looking and talking guy; not even those known for their fighting skills. It was the average looking, or even small guy, who had no family, no job, no reason for life, and a whole lot of anger. Or, it was that man who just came down from the court system with the news that he would never get out of prison for the rest of his life.
In other words—that man who had, "nothing to lose!"
He was much more dangerous than the muscle-bound, GQ looking guy who loved himself, and his car, and his life too much to get hurt. James Baldwin, an African American novelist, playwright, and social critic once wrote, "The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose." Confront a good man to steal his money, and he may give in and let you have it. Confront that same man to kill his children, or rape his wife, and he will fight you fiercely, until there is no breath left in his lungs. Why? Because he has nothing left to lose. Some might say, yes he does, he still has lots to lose (home, car, health, other loved ones, the life he's built), but that is where the term, "Nothing to lose" is misleading. The phrase insinuates, "Take a risk, because you don't have anything else that can be lost anyway...", but it means so much more. It really means: "You have so much to gain from your actions, that you don't have a thought for what else could be lost, because nothing matters in comparison."
Almost every man or woman in Scriptures, who ever had the honor of knowing God intimately like no other—who did more for God than any other—saw their own lives, in comparison to their God, and realized they had, "Nothing to lose!" in their sacrifice to Him. I didn't say they were forced into a place where they had nothing to lose, but they put themselves into a place, where they had nothing to lose. Abraham left family, land, inheritance, and security for an unknown Promise. Did he have something to lose? Yes—but to him, it was nothing in comparison to what he stood to gain. Moses left the greatest luxury and education of his time to serve a people that didn't even want him because what he stood to gain, meant he had nothing to lose. Queen Ester risked her crown, marriage, reputation and very life to step out and speak to the king on behalf of her people; but the importance of what she had to gain, made all of this seem as nothing to lose. Jairus, a religious Synagogue leader of Jesus' time, puts his religious status, his acceptance by his congregation, and potentially his career on the line to approach Jesus for the healing of his daughter. Elisha had much, but he closed all the doors behind himself
21 So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen's equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his because what he had to gain, was so much more servant: 1 Kings 19:21. Then there is Daniel, Paul, Mary and Joseph, and a long list of others in the Old and New Testament who did the same.
Of all examples in Scriptures who lived like there was, "Nothing to lose", the actions of the eleven disciples left after Jesus' crucifixion, huddled in a room for fear, are not one of them. They had given up all for Jesus, then, they lost their focus entirely. With Jesus in the grave, they suddenly felt they had something to lose again, and they began to protect what pitiful life they may have had left, hiding out for fear of others, in depression and hopelessness. Shortly thereafter, they actually see their risen Savior, and do you know what they realize at that moment? In comparison to this glorious truth Christ is risen, there is absolutely nothing to lose in life, and all to gain by following Him. They went from losers, to nothing left to lose, in one simple change. They discovered Someone they cared about more than anything else in their lives. Did they still have as much to lose as a few hours before? (Occupations, social acceptance, their very lives?) Absolutely, but it didn't compare to what they now knew they stood to gain—now it was a joy to lose it, not a burden. Remember Peter? The one to openly deny Jesus Christ (with cursing) at His trial? Protecting what little worthless life he had left, instead? Listen to Peter's words to a hostile crowd after he realized Christ was Risen! Realized that Christ was the Savior Messiah: Acts 2:14, 22-24, 32-33, 36-38. And these bold words did cost Peter everything. Eventually leading him down a path to his death because he had nothing to lose now. But, his risks were used to save countless lives, and start Jesus' church—which we are a part of today. What About us? What do we have to lose? Honestly, today the majority of us live life with a mindset exactly like those disciples hiding out in Jerusalem that day. We usually have to push people with emotional and intellectual pleas to, "Ask Jesus into your heart and life today, so you can be eternally saved!" (All about who?) Following up with a lifetime of begging and pleading individuals that say they have devoted their lives to the Creator and God, who died horrifically for them to even care enough to read about Him in His Word; to even come to church when they are a little tired, could work OT instead, or go to a ball game, or simply stay out of that nasty weather; to even give a little of their money—out of the abundance of their blessed, self-focused, comfort-driven lives; to help poor, lost, hungry people they are supposed to love; to give a hoot about the lost, broken, parentless, sick, hopeless people around them every day. While our honest view of the God of the Universe seems to amount to a sniveling, weak Savior, Who is begging us to accept Him; begging us to give Him the time of day; begging us to give Him any table scraps we may have left in our lives. We have reduced our Christian lives to saying a little prayer of acceptance, living a decently moral life, raising a decent family, praying for a comfortable life, and for extra credit adding on a little church attendance, and occasional giving to a need. Even hearing this, most of us have no idea how completely blind we are to what we really live for—what we really hold dear to us. It is not about doing more and giving more. It is about our mindset towards Jesus. It is about living a life of abandonment for Him, verses a constantly offended, depressed, thankless life, often being wasted, as we spend more time looking for reasons to justify not living for Him, than we do in the radical abandonment that such a treasure deserves. Do we really think Jesus needs our acceptance? Do we think He needs our scraps in life? Matthew 10:37-39; Luke 9:62; Matthew 13:45-46. Jesus desperately loves and wants us, but He is not the One who stands to lose everything. He does not frantically await your approval—His Kingdom does not hinge on whether you will accept Him or not. The King of the Universe gave all to allow you the chance to join Him, whether you take that chance or not is all you. He will not bite His nails and beg for your love. Answer a question for me right now, as honestly as you can: "Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?" "Do you believe THIS is His True, Whole, Holy Word?" "Do you believe His Word pertains to you and I today?" Then you and I already know what the disciples first learned on that Resurrection Morning: He is Risen. It is real and true. So—think on this question: it truly decides whether your faith is real or not. “What do I have to lose?" You don't have to, "Have nothing left..."; you just have to want Him so badly that what you do have is worthless, and expendable to get what you want. What matters so much to you that you cannot say, "I have nothing to lose?"
I started a list here, as examples, but I deleted it, because, if you are protecting something so dearly that it keeps you from Christ, you already know what it is. And just like the disciples, until He is absolutely real in your life, you can't say you have nothing to lose. Until you trust that His way is better, His reward is greater, His future is more incredible, you can't say you have nothing to lose. Until you realize that everything done for Him is truly the most important thing you could do that every loss and risk on this earth is worth it for His Fellowship, Glory and reward, you can't say you have nothing to lose. Until you realize the weight of all He carried to the grave with Him to save you, you can't say you have nothing to lose. Because more than anyone in the whole Creation, Jesus had much to lose, yet, He felt that He had nothing to lose next to the treasure He sees in you. For our lives to become awesome, usable, and close to Him, we have to arrive at the same epiphany as the disciples when Jesus arose. If it is true, there is nothing that can stop me from serving, praising, and sacrificing for my King. We will only be dangerous to fight against when we are like that inmate with a life sentence—with nothing else to lose in this world. When you are so desperate that you have nothing to lose, then you will risk anything. Without risk, there is no faith (because risk grows faith). Without faith, there is no power. Without faith, there is no change. Without faith, there is no joy and peace. Without faith, there is no purpose. Without faith, there is no intimacy with Christ. In the days that Jesus walked this earth, He worked very hard to drive as many people away as possible with His Words because He only wanted those few who would come to the conclusion which the disciples came to on that morning of His Resurrection. He truly is worth more than anything I have to lose. And from that morning, the disciples lived every moment of their lives in freedom, not fret. Many here have had white knuckles since becoming a Christian because you are holding on so tightly to all you have to lose. I simply ask you, "If you are holding on that tightly, do you really think you have ever seen Him as your Pearl of Great Price?"
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