“Fear causes a kind of contraction of the heart. As such, it inhibits godly actions such as love, hospitality, risky mission, and generosity.” Frost and Hirsch; The Faith of Leap.
Fear of rejection, fear of past guilt, fear of incompetence and fear of imperfection enslaves many in a prison of defeat. They (maybe some of us) become paralyzed with doubt, anxiety, self-loathing and others’ expectations and become ineffective quasi-disciples of a disfigured image of Jesus. What ever happened to the bold, courageous, risk taking, adventurous disciples of a risen, victorious Jesus who calls us to live on the edge of life (and in the middle of life) with Jesus-confidence and living faith?
What does this look like? First, a life lived with confident faith requires a character infused with integrity. We cannot advance into faith-full activity with sullied consciences. Deal with your issues honestly and then live in truth.
Second, we must carry the presence and power of the Spirit. This is the only pathway to effective ministry. Words and/or actions alone are not enough.
Thirdly, we must be in community. Life is lived together and after all, we can’t be and make disciples if we are hermits or afraid to mingle and minister in the middle of the pain and joys of others.
Fourthly, we must live large and bold. By large, I mean our minds, hearts and hands must be open, understanding, welcoming and giving. By bold, I mean we must live with proactive initiative (yes, I know that may sound redundant). But “Step into the water, go out a little bit deeper,” as the old song says.
Fifth, expect results (hint . . . faith). I know, I know, our religious culture allows for failure, even if we “pray in faith.” “It must not have been God’s will” we say apologetically and I know God is sovereign and all that. I may have missed something but I can’t recall Jesus in a puzzled quandary about not being able to heal someone. True, the disciples didn’t always return with a positive report, but Jesus patiently (usually) shared how they could bring home the bacon . . . er . . . right, they didn’t eat pork. He taught them how they could triumph over Satan’s activities. The good news is that we are evaluated by our faithfulness, not our “successes.”
Sixth, retell/share the story. There is, I believe, unplumbed power in the fresh, testimonial narraphor. Again, a recall of Jesus’ story telling example confirms the facts. People want to know this stuff works and hear real, not platitudes.
Seventh, (notice the spiritual significance of the number seven. Just kidding, there is no magic about my having seven points). Repeat. Take up the adventure where you left off. Get out there and walk on water, or whatever risk taking activity you engage in. If God confirmed His activity and presence by moving through you and your community He will do it again.
So, I challenge you and me to try, just try this. Take a risk by being bold. The prefaced caveat is Spirit aware direction, of course. But don’t shrink from a divine opportunity by blaming it on not feeling bold or not having an affirming tweet from Jesus. Living in the Spirit is part sensing, part intuitive and part risk taking. Those are not necessarily divided into even thirds but I think those elements should be there. When you have met Jesus and he has forever changed you, you are ready to meet others and forever change them, by the power of His Word and the presence of His Spirit.
Connecting with others to build relationship, to love them and make disciples is not the only way we take risks and carry the Spirit’s scent. Many live out their call in less obvious ways. They live generously; they live faith-fully and in a daily witness of a life saturated with integrity and congruence. Others simply and graciously do tasks of mercy for and with others in mind. Some extend ministry into their children’s and grand children’s lives with love and mentoring only they can provide. Still others open their hearts and hands in self-giving of time and resources. Countless are the ways we look and smell like Jesus.
I can’t tell you exactly what an encounter will look like because that would quantify and limit your expectations of how God works. A paradigm doesn’t exist. God is so creative it could happen a million different ways and in as many environs. But be assured, you and I are not alone in this adventure. Remember Hebrews 12 and the huge crowd of cheerleaders along the way to a destination certain? They are witnesses and believing users of risky faith. Can you hear them and their now-realized faith-became-sight shouts for you to take that first halting step? They know that just ahead is the potential for explosive, culture altering Kingdom activity in your adventure that will usher in the kind of victory in Jesus we used to sing about.
Get out of the boat. Jesus is waiting.