The ninety-nine

I have always found the story of Jesus praying in Gethsemane uncomfortable.  I always wondered how the disciples could be such fools; falling asleep when the Son of Man had asked them to keep watch. In regards to the gospel I have a tendency to think of myself superior to these disciples and their funny little ways. Why this need for resting on the night Jesus was to be betrayed? Surely they could have done a few jumping jacks, got their blood circulating and then watched and waited.  But instead they slept.

When I look at the direction the church is headed today, I see many resting disciples. Ones who accept grace and love then turn around and live without that conviction. Mediocre. Mundane. Bland.

 I truly believe the greatest stronghold the enemy has on the American church is that we are all numb to the need of salvation. We have walked through no persecution to get us where we are, we allow our bibles to collect dust on the nightstands and we sleep in on Sunday while telling ourselves “I’ll attend church next week”. We do not rejoice in this great freedom we have. For most Christians of the world there may never be a next week- they may be risking it all to read that bible today or fellowship with other believers. I wonder what the enemy would do if American Christians got radical, I’d bet persecution would come to America if only we would wake up and shout at the top of our lungs the goodness God has graced us with.

 Over the past few months as I have watched the news and the happenings around the world, darkness and fear. My social media has become a frenzy of Christians who have all the answers; few of which are biblically sound. Yes, we can protest until we are blue in the face, we can shout for justice until our voices give out, we can shake angry fist at the skies and cuss out the opposite sides, but it changes nothing. It heals nothing. Our broken world isn’t in need of restoration; it was already given restoration at the cross. So what our broken world needs is those who claim to be daughter and sons of an almighty God to rise above the voices, the shouting, the falling apart and scream love. Scream it boldly and love fiercely, because what good is anything without love? Justice is worthless, victories are worthless, peace is worthless.

 He became sin that we may be considered righteous.

 Righteousness does not take anger out on social media, it doesn’t exclude those who don’t agree with your beliefs, it does not look at those less fortunate as if they are the problem, it does not build a wall out of fear and it certainly doesn’t look for a president to heal the brokenness of a nation.

 If Jesus is our example then following Him looks a lot different than we have convinced ourselves it to be.

 If Jesus loved the prostitute, the thief, the beggar, the liar and the adulterer so unconditionally who are we as a church to pick and choose who to love and who to treat as unclean?

 That person you shot a dirty look at when you passed him the other day?

The one who wore the chains and eyeliner and tattoos?

The little girl pregnant and roaming the streets?

The old man with the alcohol problem?

The one who you wrote a comment in regards to his beating because of his sexuality, you quoted scripture and said the young man deserved it?

Those are the very ones that Jesus laid His life down for, when He breathed “It is finished” and paid in full was written in crimson, those are the ones that He spoke of. It was all for them, for us. His death on the cross is meaningless if we believe that truth is for the church to keep and cherish, we will never convince the lost that they are loved if we sit back and judge those who do not even know the truth.

 Oh, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ love and righteousness.

 He’s not just the God of the ninety-nine, He is also the God of the lost one. Our Father will recklessly pursue that one down the steep side of the mountains and into ravines. As His ninety-nine, we too should spread into the earth in active pursuit of the ones that our Father’s heart is bleeding for. We can cry about the brokenness of the world or we can choose to leave the pasture and face the darkness with the knowledge that everything His made us to be is outside of those walls we’ve built around our faith. We are made for more than the pastures, we were made for freedom, for recklessly laying down our lives.

 I pray that we, as a church, would believe in healings, miracles and a God who is not put in a box for our own comfort. That belief would fill our entire beings resting in the fact that with faith of a mustard seed our God of the impossible will move any mountain in our way. I want to be the one dancing wildly in the street because of the overwhelming joy that God has bestowed upon His children. I want to see the churches skepticism put to shame and wall that divide us as Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, crumble into a mess of togetherness and fellowship. I want us to brave being called radical for the sake of love. To bend low and love one another regardless of race, gender, or religion. If we preach the great commission and being the hands and feet of the gospel, then we will also believe that we were made for nothing less than risks and laying down our lives for our lives for the Kingdom.

 Some days the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life is so real that I understand why David danced unashamed in the streets, oh, that those around me will find that same joy that salvation brings. I imagine that heaven is that on steroids; unashamed, abandoned, and fullest joy.  But I won’t cry for Jesus to return today, I won’t say “Jesus come”, because if He were to return today think of all the broken hearts who have not yet heard of this unexplained joy and this extravagant hope. I want Him to find me with calloused hands and dirty feet because that’s how I imagine Him to be.  We were made to be more than Sunday mornings.

 I’m tired of falling asleep when He has asked me to keep watch and I’ve lost interest in the pasture land.

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 Oh, Jesus, make us brave.

 

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2 thoughts on “The ninety-nine

  1. Pingback: The ninety-nine | crazyforgrace

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