About Faith and Courage and Letting Go

Consider these Scripture passages. What do they have in common?

  • Then Jesus told them what they could expect for themselves: “Any of you who want to be My follower must deny yourselves (set aside your own self-interests), take up your cross daily (take up My self-giving way of life), and follow Me (let Me lead). For if you choose self-sacrifice, giving up your soul-lives for My glory, you will embark on a discovery of more and more true life. But if you choose to keep your soul-lives for yourselves, you will lose what you try to keep.” (Luke 9:23-24)
  • Therefore, in response to all of these mercies God has shown you, I beg you, brothers and sisters, to make a decisive once-and-for-all dedication of your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and devoted and acceptable to God. This response to all of these mercies God has shown you is your only reasonable act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
  • Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God. (Romans 6:13-14 in The Message)
  • For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that He has given His life for all of us. This means all died with Him, so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for Him—the One who died for us and now lives again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 in The Passion Translation)
  • “My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of His cross crucified me with Him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives His life through me—we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God Who loves me so much that He gave Himself for me, and dispenses His life into mine! (Galatians 2:20 in The Passion Translation)

Now consider these imaginary scenes.

  • Scene #1 – Imagine that you are standing on the bank of a river. You have a glass in your hand. You kneel at the river, place the glass in the river, and then draw the glass out, full of river water. It would now be accurate to say you have the river (or at least some river water). You can take the river with you wherever you go. The river water is static and safe. You have the river water contained and controlled. You can go anywhere you want to go with it.
  • Scene #2 – Imagine that you are standing on the bank of a river. You have a glass in your hand. You place the glass on the ground next to you, take a deep breath, and jump into the river. It would now be accurate to say the river has you. The river’s current can take you wherever it is going. The river is wild and dynamic and risky and you are not in control, but you certainly are being taken somewhere.
  • Scene #3 – Imagine that you are standing on the bank of a river. You have a glass in your hand. You place the glass on the ground next to you and you tentatively approach the river. You step in just enough that your feet are in the water. After a while, you move a little deeper into the river, so that the water is up to your knees. This process continues, back and forth. Sometimes more of you is wet than dry. Sometimes more of you is dry than wet.

Questions:

  • Which scene best describes your relationship with Christ right now?
  • Which scene do you want describing your relationship with Christ?
  • How confident is your trust in Christ?
  • What is your next step?

Blessings,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)

Letting Go (Philippians 3:5-14)

In the Bible, we constantly encounter people who choose to let go so that God can securely hold them and include them in what God is doing. This “letting go” thrusts God’s people into the undefined, the unknown, the uncertain, and the unbelievable, all of which are ideal contexts for vigorous faith development in the Christ-following life. Here are examples:

Noah let go of his pride and his worldview, spending more than a hundred years building something nobody had ever seen before in anticipation of something that had never happened before, all because God spoke to him.

Abraham let go of comfort and security and everything familiar, packing up and moving before he had a clue where God was taking them.

Jacob let go of his innate ability to get his way by deceiving people, instead trusting God to grant him favor.

Moses let go of his insecurities and his inadequacies and his many other fears, following God’s lead into one impossible situation after another.

Joshua and Caleb let go of their human inferiority against gigantically overwhelming odds, comparing their enemies to God instead of comparing their enemies to themselves.

David let go of his desire for revenge against the homicidally paranoid king Saul, repeatedly taking the high road.

David also let go of his ego, which meant the greatest Monarchy represented in the Hebrew Scriptures featured Jehovah as the Senior Partner and king David as the junior partner.

The prophet Elijah let go of his self-sufficiency and his freedom, allowing God to say dangerous things to powerful people through him, to feed him by whatever birds brought him or by what a starving widow fixed him, and to pit him against 850 false prophets in a showdown that became a shutout.

King Jehoshaphat let go of his pride and his panic, advancing against a coalition of three frothing armies by introducing the offbeat weaponry of a choir and a praise band.

The prophet Isaiah let go of his clothing for three years because God told him to.

Yes, that happened.

In His incarnation, Jesus let go of the benefits package that comes with being God, humbling Himself beyond our comprehension for our sakes.

Mary and Joseph let go of their expectations about marriage and about how babies are made and about parenting, moving with God’s Spirit into scandal, peril, and refugee status.

The disciples let go of their occupations and, in some cases, their families, in order to follow Jesus.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus let go of His human desire to avoid the agony of bearing our sins and feeling separated from Abba, staying the course to the cross because we were helpless without Him.

At Pentecost, the earliest believers let go of any notions about being in control of themselves or their lives, because the exact same Jesus they had walked with for three years had suddenly filled them beyond overflow in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Once persecution broke out, the earliest believers let go of any notions about being safe, confessing Jesus as Lord in the face of torturous death sentences.

On a roof in Joppa, Peter let go of “insider” and “outsider” categories, risking rejection in order to welcome Gentiles (“THOSE people”) into the body of Christ.

Paul let go of his admirable pedigree, his successful career, his dignity, his health, and his future in order to follow Jesus – even though he was promised suffering from the start.

In Philippians 3:5-14, Paul articulates the dynamics and the rewards of a relinquished life. Here is his autobiography in The Voice translation.

“I was circumcised on the eighth day—as the law prescribes—born of the nation of Israel, descended from the tribe of Benjamin. I am a Hebrew born of Hebrews; I have observed the law according to the strict piety of the Pharisees, separate from those embracing a less rigorous kind of Judaism. Zealous? Yes. I ruthlessly pursued and persecuted the church. And when it comes to the righteousness required by the law, my record is spotless. But whatever I used to count as my greatest accomplishments, I’ve written them off as a loss because of the Anointed One. And more so, I now realize that all I gained and thought was important was nothing but yesterday’s garbage compared to knowing the Anointed Jesus my Lord. For Him I have thrown everything aside—it’s nothing but a pile of waste—so that I may gain Him. When it counts, I want to be found belonging to Him, not clinging to my own righteousness based on law, but actively relying on the faithfulness of the Anointed One. This is true righteousness, supplied by God, acquired by faith. I want to know Him inside and out. I want to experience the power of His resurrection and join in His suffering, shaped by His death, so that I may arrive safely at the resurrection from the dead. I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go. Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed.”

Paul let go of his life so that Christ Jesus could grab hold of Paul and never let him go. What do you need to let go of so that Christ Jesus can thoroughly grab hold of you and bring you into His Life?

…Pride?

…Your past?

…Your future?

…Security?

…Addiction?

…Fear?

…Approval seeking?

…Materialism?

…Technology?

…Cynicism?

…Self-indulgence?

…Instant gratification?

…Hyperactive emotional sensitivity?

…Religion?

…Nosiness?

…Manipulation of others?

…A relationship?

…Narcissism?

…Control?

…Morbid introspection?

…Comfort?

…Anxiety?

…Anger?

…Bitterness?

…Doubt?

…_________?

May you and I live into our own versions of Philippians 3:12. “I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go.”

In Jesus’ name,

Rick Jordan

www.rickcarlajordan.com