By: James Green
I have a healthy respect for heights (some might say a fear!) that I can trace back to an unfortunate incident where I got knocked off of a ladder while I was trimming trees as a teenager. Since that accident, I get sweaty palmed and anxious in high places – not like tall buildings or the top of the Gateway Arch; those places don’t really bother me because I feel safe and have a lot of confidence in the structure. No, the places that scare me are tall platforms, high balconies, things that are tantamount to the edge of a cliff.
Why do those things scare me so much? It’s got to be that fear of losing my balance and plummeting to the ground! Honestly, if I was on a one foot by one foot wood platform that was one foot off the ground, I wouldn’t be stressed at all. However, one year at Young Life camp, I found myself on a one foot by one foot platform that was 60 feet off the ground – and all of a sudden my backbone felt like it was made of silly putty!
Standing on the edge is a little frightening , but living on the edge can be even scarier! However, I have met some people (strange, strange people!) who seem to really enjoy the thrill of “living on the edge”. These are the people who work on skyscrapers and attach the carabineers to your harness at the top of the repelling station! What’s their secret? They have learned how to both respect the height and still function effectively.
Dan taught this past weekend from John 17:18-20 about how to do just that: to understand the importance of reaching out to lost and hurting people while recognizing that the world is a dangerous place. If we are to live on the edge as Christ followers, then we have to follow God’s command to go into the world and yet remain set apart and not become conformed to the world. He shared that there was one proven and correct way to engage the world around us, and that was to go like Jesus and be distinct like Jesus.
Sadly, sometimes we shut down as soon as the model for our method is Jesus. We feel there is no way we can possibly accomplish the task if Christ is our benchmark. Can you image growing up as Jesus’ brother? Mary always saying things like, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” That’s a tough home environment!
But Dan explained, we can go “like Jesus” if we don’t attempt to isolate ourselves from the people around us, if we don’t place obedience to rules over our relationship to God through His Son, if we love people graciously as opposed to hating them confrontationally, and if we don’t engage the world by embracing the world’s systems.
When Jesus “went” into the world, He taught an intentionally scandalous and offensive message (the authentic Gospel), yet He shared it in such a winsome way that people were still drawn to Him!
Dan concluded by reiterating that “going” is a dangerous mission – even when we go like Jesus; distinct in our message and our
character. Therefore, the way to “go” is as Jesus instructed in Matthew 10:16 – as sheep in the wolves den; staying close to the Shepherd so that we don’t get eaten!
Living on the edge is the kind of life God desires for us, as Christ followers. In 2013, will we accept the challenge to go into the world yet remain set apart or will we be so scared of the edge that we will become isolated, legalistic, confrontational or compromising? As a local body – let’s embrace the challenge of our mission statement: to both know God better and to make His name famous; let’s make Christ known by boldly getting out on the edge like Jesus!