ILLUSTRATION: A Highly Trained Seal Team has been dropped deep into enemy territory to extract quite a number of innocent civilian families held hostage in a remote prison. The hostages have been mistreated, tortured and many already killed. They have a limited amount of time to complete the mission before a chopper comes to meet them at an extraction point. When they hit the ground and the mission begins, the Leader of the Team picks up his equipment and signals the men to follow into the night towards the prisons. The other men begin digging in where they are, setting up camp, starting a fire, and they simply begin to wait. When their Leader turns and asks what they are doing, the reply is, "The chopper will be coming right here very soon. We don't want to miss it when it comes back!" The Leader replies, "But this is our mission; it is why we are here!" To which the now solidly encamped soldiers respond, "So you go tell them if they want a ticket out of here, they better come quick. We'll guard the spot!"
Let me ask you—how much sense does this story make? These men signed up for the Navy Seals. They were prepared for this moment. They have training, equipment, weapons, and connections not available to those imprisoned. These hostages don't know the way to the zone—don’t even know there is a chopper is even coming. And they couldn't find their way there if they did know, because they are too weak, battered and scared, and the enemy has them imprisoned and surrounded. These men may have signed up and carry the Title of Navy Seals, but would they be considered True Seals? Or a complete disgrace to the name? A Soldier who is sold out for his mission—dedicated to those he comes to serve—will give all. A hired hand out for their own glory and a buck will always pass up or abandon the mission if it is risky or hard: John 10:10-15. Are you and I simply hired hands working for our own benefit as long as it is advantageous and safe? Or, are we one with the Shepherd who has given everything to save the Sheep? The Shepherd Who lays down His very Life for His Passion and Love? We have become the Scribes and Pharisees of this generation. We learn God's Word each week. We debate and argue over frivolous theology. We live more righteously than the world by the Words we hear. We judge others in their sin by that Word. But we aren't living that word through the love, power and commitment of the Spirit. In the Book of Acts, the Apostles and early Christians didn't even have the New Testament to study and guide them, yet they were living it; they were writing it through the Holy Spirit Who worked in them. They went, they served, they gave, they risked, they spoke, they lost, they sacrificed, they loved; they lived everything about their lives based upon the single, simple Truth that Jesus is real, is risen and is worthy of their lives. And that serving Him in front of this fallen world; following Him in His desire to rescue this lost world, day to day, moment by moment, was worth more than a comfortable living for this temporary moment. But somehow you and I feel these Biblical Stories are there as illustrations for "spiritual talking points". Points to be used for our intellectual learning and growth, rather than true examples of what we are expected to mimic. When will we stop reading and talking about them and start to finally live them? It can only be done when we draw close to Him in Spirit. Our lost world around us has decided there is no line they will not cross; there is no limit to how far they will go; there is no worry over what anyone thinks of them; there is no loss they will not suffer; there is no law that will stop them; there is no cost too great, for them to push their desires and passions upon the rest of humanity. As we sit comfortably and contently in fragments of a world that was, watching our rights, our ways, our God, being forcibly removed; watching the very people doing it be completely misled and destroyed by Satan's plans—while we, at best, preach and wail over how wrong they are. Yet, we do nothing in defense of our God or to save them from their own demise. We never step out; never speak out; never put ourselves in difficult, controversial, radical, sacrificial or even dangerous positions to reach others or defend Christ because God would never call us to do that! (??) So, you are telling me that Satan can expect more sacrificial allegiance and service than my loving, sacrificial God should expect from me? John 12:23-26. These Words of Our Lord are just as relevant now; they are for today! for you and I. If a seed dies and is buried, it produces fruit, growth, new life. Did you make a vow to God to die in Christ? What do you think "die to self" means? What do you think "take up your cross" means? What do you think "Love others as Jesus loves" means? Well guess what? It surely does not mean what we are doing right now. This verse very clearly explains what it means: It means being where He is, following where He leads, doing what He does. That means not going where you want, not doing what you desire first. If Jesus was physically walking amongt us today, would He be living each day obsessed with His looks, His clothes, His reputation, His fine car, His better home, His comfy retirement? Would He waste ungodly amounts of time in sports, video games or television? Would He listen to people around Him speak and act as they do without challenge or comment? Would He be a soft-spoken doormat which the world overlooked—or a loving, but unbending Force to be reckoned with? Would He watch broken and misled people walk around Him without ever offering the Truth to light their way? Matthew 9:36-38. Remember what Jesus declared in the Synagogue about His own calling which came from a prophecy about Him in Isaiah 61: Luke 4:18-19. Jesus stopped there in His quote of Isaiah because the last part of the original text was not meant to be fulfilled until later—that "later" being now: Isaiah 61:2. Time is almost spent. His Day of Reconciling is very near. Today is the day we must die to our lives and live as He would live. It is time to die to these lives as we have lived them and step into the realm of radical for Christ in these Last Days (through the Love and Power of the Spirit) or we have already lost. And stop crying the blues about how we have already lost, or how it is futile to resist what we know is coming. These are the times to work and live harder than ever. It is in these times that Jesus does His best work. Now is when the world has more lost and wandering people than ever. Now is the only time they can be reached before the light goes out; before the chopper comes back. now is the place and time when we prove our hearts more faithful than ever before.
Being radical does not mean being intolerant, judgmental, harsh, hateful or rebellious; or being a fake, loud, insensitive Jesus-Freak giving sales pitches to make someone say a little prayer to simply make yourself feel or look good; or to live holier and higher than others. Being radical means loving in a radical way; loving differently than the world. It means walking in the awareness, expectation, and power of the spirit constantly; wanting, expecting to be used. It means genuinely showing an interest in people around you (they will know it, sense it, when it is real) by listening and caring about their life, and their beliefs. You should care how and why they see the world as they do. And serving those around you instead of being served—especially family and friends. It means stepping through the veil of fear and insecurity and just saying what needs to be said—what they may be longing to hear. By telling people what God has done for you. By telling people why you are worried for them, and what they are missing. By telling people why you feel we are out of time as a nation and a world. By telling them what their worth is in His eyes. It means telling people why His Way is better than the world, even when it is awkward or difficult. It means reaching out to those who ridicule or push you away, and acting in love for them—not self-pity or justice. It means taking notice and interest in other's struggles. Letting God speak to your heart, to see them as He sees them. Seeing their financial, emotional, material or spiritual struggles and actually caring and helping radically as Jesus did. It means standing for life; standing for marriage; standing for family in whatever form that requires. It means standing steadfast when laws prevent try to prevent you from keeping your faith. It means changing your habits and entertainment to honor your God in the eyes of others and to protect your own mind. Don't just say, "That's wrong, I won't do that,” but lovingly tell why: "I love my God too much to go against His Commands and I trust His Wisdom!" It means doing away with any amount of hobbies, TV or anything else necessary to give God Prime Time first because you actually want and expect more of a Him in doing so. It means making God's House—making open, united worship and God's people—a priority in your life, that you will not put second. It means stepping out when God calls you to minister, give, or pray, then and there. Expecting Him to work supernaturally—anywhere, anytime. It means leaving your sin behind, no matter the cost to your relationships, living conditions, money or comfort. It may mean leaving a dishonoring job or scaling down your living so that you may be free to obey God with your resources. It means letting the world see His reality and worth proven by your lifestyle, actions, and faith. It means forgiveness when done wrong, marriages, coworkers—this is the greatest picture of Christ over all. Do all of these things as the world does for their convictions; no matter the cost, unashamed and un-apologetically. Every single day there is an opportunity to live, speak, serve and love radically if we walk where He walks; if we look for a Him; if we want to be used badly enough.
While we are anticipating His Return, stop loitering around the pickup zone and just protecting self. Think about it: What is the whole reason He is tarrying this long anyway? 2 Peter 3:9-10: to save as many people as possible. He won't leave one behind that may choose Him. The whole reason we are still here is to fulfill this mission; to build His Kingdom; to save as many hostages as possible before the King returns. When will we get into the real mission? Maybe the one you lead to Christ will be the one that ushers in the Return of the King. Do not say, one more time that you are truly waiting on Christ's Return unless you are working for Him as you wait. You should not say or believe that you are truly loving, wanting and standing for Christ unless you are sincerely caring about and focused upon what He deems worthy of His Own Life as you and I await his Return.
If you are not interested in being where He is right now—pleasing Him right here, now—do you really know and love Him? And do you really want more of Him? Or do you just want your own security and well-being, now and in the future? We will all be wise to listen and apply the teaching of this next passage: Jesus was on His way from Jericho to Jerusalem to ultimately be Crucified there for us. But the crowds of followers thought He was going there to bring the Kingdom of God to earth and rule as the Messiah then, in their time. Jesus told this parable, explaining He would leave for a time, before the Kingdom would come and what they should do as they waited: Luke 19:11-13, 15-27: The lesson is very clear: Jesus would return soon as King, and until that day, we have all been given gifts to invest on His behalf until He Returns. They were to be busy doing His work; knowing the Kingdom would soon be there, and nothing else would matter anymore (when all became His Kingdom). Now notice, the servant who did not invest what he had been given for the sake of the King, was called a "Wicked servant," because He saw the King as “harsh”, not loving. Obviously not a loving and faithful follower, and he was given a place with the enemies of the Kingdom! But those who did His Work were incredibly rewarded. We can no longer live our self-created fantasy of what a Christian life looks like today and think we are loving and serving the Savior Who did so much for us. And we should all be deeply challenged by a fallen world that is willing to passionately give all, in fighting against Christ's Kingdom, as we sit quietly, passively, afraid to risk, afraid to lose, afraid to act. It is far past the time we need to stop treating Scriptures as a Book of Good Stories and Lessons, and start using it as an example for living. Jesus is expecting us to leave our civilian life and give ourselves totally to His Mission in reality until He Returns. You and I have to make a final, committed choice to just believe, change, give, speak, go, do, pray, trust, serve, act, love—to just live it in joy and in abandon, knowing what we are working for; knowing what we are building; knowing these people will be with us there. Don’t just “hold the line”—“push the line” until He Returns!
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