March 30, 2009

Risky Business

Believe it or not, in the year 2009, there are people in various places around the world that are being persecuted and even killed for following Jesus. These are people that are literally risking their lives for the name of Jesus, like the ones talked about in Acts 15:25-27, Romans 16:3-4 or Philippians 2:29-30. It has never been nor will it ever be easy to follow Jesus because the very core of what it means to be a disciple of Christ is counter-cultural. With commands that talk about loving your enemy, being a servant to all, practicing humility and submission, a willingness to be last, submitting and respecting authority, loving God with everything you have, living generously...these commands are not only counter-cultural but they are also counter-me. Not one of these things come naturally for me or for our culture, which, as I see it, creates a risk in two ways:

1. If you attempt to challenge people to live by these counter-cultural standards you risk the probability of them telling you to "shove it" through their actions, words and/or attitudes.

2. If you attempt to live by these counter-cultural standards you risk the probability of getting "shoved around" by the actions, words and/or attitudes of a culture that does not recognize or care about your attempt to live in this selfless sort of way.

So, how do those of us who live in suburban United States apply this idea of being willing to risk our lives for the name of Jesus? While many of us don't have people trying to stone us because of our relationship with Jesus, I have no doubt there are things that you and I could "lose" because of it. Maybe you need to risk losing the group of friends you run with, your "status" in your fraternity or sorority or maybe popularity in general for your relationship with Jesus. Maybe you need to risk losing that big business deal for not compromising your following of Jesus. Maybe you need to risk the awkwardness that can result for following the Spirit when it leads you to point out the sin in another person's life. Maybe you need to risk being last, serving all, loving your enemies.

Are we risking anything for the name of Jesus? What does it say about our faith if we're not? I wonder if it's possible to leave everything behind and follow Jesus like the first disciples did without risking anything. I would have to guess not.


Matt said...

the sermon I listened to this week was very similar to this. We were talking about the line in the beatitudes "blessed are the peacemakers" and what that means for us in our everyday life. is a site that talks about those who are out giving their lives for Jesus.
I actually signed up for their weekly prayer letter so that I could be specifically praying for those who are out giving their lives.

Matt said...

Thought this would be a nice addition.

Matt said...

Matt: thanks for the read and comment. thanks for sharing the website, i have heard about it but hadn't spent much time there.

i'd be curious to hear some thoughts on the relationship between risk and being a peacemaker.

Matt said...

The story we chose to look at was in reference to Saint Telemachus. You can read about him here.

Jesus says that the greatest thing a man can do is lay down their for someone else.

With all the junk we have to deal with regarding hate there is a need for people to make peace on a small scale also. From a family to school theres a need everywhere.
Either way there requires a sacrifice. This could be your time, popularity, reputation, the list continues.

I feel somewhat strange quoting Justin Timberlake but "where is the love?"

Matt said...

Matt: thanks for sharing. i agree, there is an inherent risk in trying to bring peace in whatever ways we can. the risk that somehow, some way we may lose something as a result of us being peacemakers.

i can understand your strange feelings for quoting JT but at the same time i love it. classic!