Jesus Is Risky.


"Yeah, Beth is cute. And like, super chill. But she's reaaally into church and stuff. Honestly, I'd pass." 

Have you ever walked into a conversation that you know you weren't meant to hear? It's weird, right? I think mortifying is a really good word to describe it. And that's exactly what happened to me a little while ago, at a campfire of some friend-quaintences. 

This is really lame - but I'm not gonna lie, I was caught off guard by how overhearing those few sentences actually hurt me. It hurt me to the point that I had to dip to the bathroom quickly, just to put on my poker-face and act like what those guys were saying didn't matter. 

Listen, babes. My faith has been a constant friction lately. Some days I'm like wow, God's presence is so evident. Other days I feel really stuck  - which is probably why the only stuff I've had this past month in terms of amazing bloggerly-drop-the-mic-words-of-wisdom are four random Notes on my iPhone. One of them simply states;

Jesus is risky. 

I've been doing a lot of seeking. I've been doing a lot of leaving. And then returning. And leaving again. And coming back. There have been times when I've been sitting outside on my front porch, watching the sky move from lavender to navy blue, and wondering - what would happen if I left it all behind? 

Because the world is really shiny sometimes. 

And sometimes I'm tired of trying to witness to hard rocks, thorny ground, and withering seeds. And sometimes I'm tired of being disappointed in other Christians and how they treat the people around them. And sometimes (okay, most of the time) I'm tired of making the same mistakes, falling into the same temptation, and clinging to the same empty things over and over. Have you ever had one of those nights when you come home, and you can practically smell the dead flesh on you? You might not even be sinning or doing something "technically" wrong. But your heart is in the totally wrong place. And for the longest while, you've been content to leave it there.

There I was, living like everyone else around me and blending in. I was looking like every other 20-something at that party, making the same jokes, flirting with the same boys, and I bet nobody on the outside would have guessed that I even had a commitment to pursue Jesus, let alone (don't laugh) help others to the same effect. And I won't lie to you, so far it was a good time. Until those few awkward seconds of realizing they knew. Suddenly, I was very aware of the idea that loving Jesus meant there was something unwantable about me. Yeah, Beth, you're cool. Until everybody finds out you believe in God. And you know what felt the worst? I was pissed at myself that suddenly, right in that moment - I felt ashamed of my Saviour. 

"15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters[a] who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us." 2 Corinthians 2:15-17

When we hear people say that loving Jesus with all you've got is gonna be hard, we don't take it that seriously, do we? It seems really easy to be a Christian in North America. Even trendy sometimes. Nobody is threatening to throw acid on me for writing this blog. I don't live in fear that someone is going to come into my church on a Sunday and start shooting people.

And yet, no matter where you live, who your friends are, or what your background is - Jesus is not a walk in the park. Loving Jesus with all you've got is way more than you're just really, really, really nice to everybody. Contrary to popular belief, it's not merely about being a good person. Or somebody that everyone admires. Jesus was not the kind of guy that attracted cool people. He attracted the kinds of people that we judge, slut-shame, and generally try to avoid at all costs. He came to heal the sick. Not the healthy (Luke 5). When he called Levi, all he said was, "Follow me." And that disciple dropped everything to follow him. That's uncomfortable. That's out of my comfort zone. (And we pretend like it's taboo if we feel that way. Nobody wants to admit how risky it is. And if they do - they follow it quickly with IT'S SO WORTH IT YOU'LL NEVER REGRET IT. Which, is true. But not exactly true in the way it's advertised.)

Because I totally like being liked. I like being popular. I like not having to worry about rejection. I'd rather rely on charisma than the sincerity of the gospel to get people interested in Church.  Actually, I'd rather never have to talk about Church in "cool" circles because then I can just be "cool" like everyone else. A little sin is harmless, right? That's how it feels sometimes. Yet we're told that if we choose the gospel, those other things go far beyond our reach. They're like rotted, dead, carcasses. I'm not above admitting that sounds risky to the fleshliest parts of me.

Giving up everything means also giving up the approval and respect of man. Now - it doesn't mean we aren't worthy of respect. It doesn't mean we should let people treat us badly or that the faith we have isn't defensible. But we're seeking a different, divine approval. Just because I'm a bible student interested in ministry doesn't mean I'm immune to wanting everybody to like me or have people think that I've got "it". But it's an idol I have to lay down.

If you're struggling right now in figuring out where it is exactly that you stand when it comes to the world and Jesus - you are not alone. Seriously. It's really, really hard to be in the world but not of it. It's a balancing act that I'm sure even the godliest of leaders still don't know how to do perfectly (and consistently). I've gotta be honest here and admit it's probably my biggest struggle when it comes to faith and living a life after God. But I also believe that it's possible. I believe God's constantly shaping us and changing us for the better. I believe He is Life. A sweet aroma. My sustainer. My restorer. The one who helps me when I'm most aware that I can't help myself. Even if all it looks like is going to church again, or asking someone to pray for you, or wiping off the dust from your bible. Be humble. Ask for help. Let the pursuit of grace be your purpose. Let's grow together, guys. Let's pursue this risky Jesus - and see what he does with us.

Photo by Jordan McQueen on Unsplash

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