“Do you guys know how much God loves you?” asked my fellow youth leader, whose red-on-black vest that day, I might add, happened to make him an unavoidably spitting image of a younger Jean-Luc Picard.
Our teens bounced some answers back and forth, solid as ever. They’ve got great understanding.
I ventured my own. And I should have known God would call me on it.
I said, “I believe it in my head, but not in my heart.”
I went on to describe how we often have another set of beliefs, this one existing subconsciously as something closer to instincts than to something you say out loud. We can believe God’s love consciously, as in process it as intellectual fact, without actually living like it. If we did, we’d take risks when God leads us. We’d avoid traps when God labels them such. We’d turn from sin. Nothing else would be important.
“My life would look a lot different if my heart believed God loves me,” I said. “By his grace, I’d like to think it’s getting there.”
I should have known God would call me on it.
Not an hour later, another youth leader was sidling up to me and enthusiastically volunteering me to lead a sprawling, daunting, risky ministry project on a scale I’ve never tried before. One which would require – well, believing in God’s love. On a heart level.
It’s like he heard me teaching those youth and went, Great words. Pop quiz?
I don’t know if it’ll even happen. It just got proposed today. A few stepping stones do appear to have been laid already.
But it forced me to confront ever more starkly the reality of my own words: if we lived as if we believe God loves us, our lives would be extraordinary. We would be living fireworks, as daring as the battered Hollywood stunt double or the suicidal YouTube extreme sportsman, as confident as any politician, and as steel-eyed and determined as the most grizzled solider. More so. And all, perhaps, without ever being seen by the masses.
That’s what happens when we’ve been with Jesus.
When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they marveled and took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
“They” is the Sanhedrin, the religious enforcers of Jesus’ day, far beneath the kingdom of God and not above blows from the fist. Months before, while Jesus stood at his show trial toying with these power players, Peter had been lying about knowing him to mere streetfolk. Now he faced these power players himself – and they could see Jesus’ boldness in him. Jesus’ love transformed him. He didn’t care what the world thought anymore, because he’d found meaning in Someone else.
Maybe you’ve never felt bold. Maybe you’ve trotted out the whole “I can witness to people here in America” line a little too often, knowing you’re not actually doing it that much, while unreached people groups across the globe lack access to a Bible. God has grace for you. He also has boldness.
Go be with Jesus. It makes a difference.
I’m glad you tuned in today. If you found this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!