To advance the gospel is a dangerous thing.
We have a very real enemy prowling around trying to take out those of us who step out and speak up for Jesus.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9
Are we willing to take the risk?
What do we value more – Jesus and His mission or our family/comfort?
Davey Blackburn is a pastor in America, he was on staff at NewSpring in South Carolina before he moved to Indiana in 2012 to plant a church (Resonate) with his wife Amanda. Just a couple of months ago his wife was shot and killed during a home invasion whilst she protected her one year old son. He returned home from the gym to find his wife injured, she was rushed to hospital but sadly died a day or so later. Davey issued a statement on his church’s website that drove home to me how dangerous the gospel is – but how worthwhile it is to pursue a life going public with the good news of Jesus. Here’s a part of the statement:
It’s impossible to communicate all the emotions my heart has been forced to process. My wife was such a beautiful, gracious, loving woman of God. I have not only lost my ministry partner and support but also my very best friend. There is no way to prepare yourself for circumstances like these. As deeply as I am hurting I am hopeful and confident that good things will come of this. I rest in the truth of Romans 8:28 that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose.
Amanda made it her life’s calling to love and serve everyone she knew. Even more, she has made it her life’s mission to see as many people as possible come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. I know that in her death and legacy even more people will come to a saving faith in Christ. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt her desire for me would be to continue what we’ve started here in Indy. I hold firm to the belief that God is still good, that He takes our tragedy and turns it into triumph, and that the best truly is yet to come.
“He takes our tragedy and turns it into triumph, and … the best truly is yet to come.” The words of a man who has just lost his wife. The words of a man who has God at the centre of his life. The words of a man who has unfailing trust and hope in Jesus Christ. The words of a Bible-believing Christian who reads the words “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) and actually believes it.
Did I mention his wife was 13 weeks pregnant? Did I mention that two days before this happened, he preached a message about using worship as a weapon?
We have a very real enemy who wants to take us out, particularly if we seem to be strong and advancing the Gospel. You know what’s bigger though? Stronger? Mightier? God.
I feel convicted at the moment in not truly believing what God’s Word says.
I believe every word the Bible says.
I believe in miracles. I do.
I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin.
I believe that Jesus healed the sick – giving sight to those who could not see, making the lame walk, changing the hearts of those filled with hate.
Jesus performed miracle after miracle. He didn’t even have to do anything for some people – His presence was enough to change them.
But here’s the challenge – who do I believe is really in control of my life?
What do I believe? What do you believe?
Is it Jesus? God incarnate, here to change the world so we could thrive for His glory?
Or is it your *insert personal hang-up here*?
That could be anxiety, depression, parents, unmet expectations, job, finances, relationship status, how many likes you get on Instagram, how many books you’ve read, what phone you have, your qualifications, how much scripture you can quote.
What is it that controls my life? Because I’d say on a day-to-day basis a couple of those things come above Jesus, and that’s not how I should be living as a Bible-believing, Christ-centred person.
Some of these things aren’t even bad, but it’s when we place them above God, or make them bigger than God, they become negative.
If we believe in our hearts that our problem is bigger than our Provider, then we are consistently and continuously going to be trapped in its web.
God has called us to live extraordinary lives.
He has called us to go further and do more than anybody else in His name, to advance His Kingdom, and to share His Good News. To love people more than they’ve ever felt before. To show grace to people more than they’ve ever received before. To be different. To be outstanding.
And then we get stuck in the cycle of – “But God hasn’t called me to that” or “My anxiety doesn’t allow me to do that.”
Everybody has bad days. It’s what you do with them that has the potential to make you stand out.
Romans 12:2 tells us that we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Not to get stuck into old habits. To be TRANSFORMED. Not temporarily mended. Not even long-term fixed, but transformed. Changed. The old has gone, the new has come.
Why is it that I can look in the Bible, and believe that Jesus healed so many ails, sicknesses, and problems, but I don’t believe He can change my circumstances?
We categorise our problems as greater than what God can handle, and therefore greater than God.
I’m making a declaration.
I am a Bible-believing, Christ-transformed person, who puts God at the centre of my life, and I am going to live like that is true. I am going to live as though I believe what I say I do so often.
But I don’t want to leave it at that – I want to bring people on this journey with me.
With so much at stake (literally life or death – see the story above), you can’t be half-in with Jesus. You either go all-in or you sit on the bench your whole life, looking at what other people are doing. Some people are comfortable there, carrying on with life as it always has been, just throwing in the odd church event on the way, but I never want to be one of those people. I don’t want to be a comfortable Christian. I don’t want to sit and watch other people make an impact on the world whilst I sit and talk about how great it would be to try.
I want to risk it all for Jesus, because He risked it all for me. And that’s a very real risk. We are actually in the firing line – but the thing is, when you know you are living for Jesus — all in — every risk becomes worthwhile.