“You cannot start seeing or understanding anything if you start with “No.”
Those are the words of Franciscan friar, Richard Rohr; words that have the ring of truth in my life. Evidently Paul felt it too, because in 2 Cor. 1:18-20, he says, “But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “yes” and “no.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us – by me and Silas and Timothy – was not “yes” and “no,” but in him it has always been “YES.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “YES” in Christ. And so through him the “amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
This, of course, was probably not the perspective you inherited from your parents as a child. Back then it was safer to begin with “no!”
The problem for Christ-followers comes when they never outgrow the cocoon of “no!” In the cocoon of “no” it’s always safe and warm and predictable. So safe and warm, in fact, that we applaud ourselves for our “wisdom”…our “conservatism”…our “cautious” worldview.
Does that sound like Jesus to you? The one who “set his face toward Jerusalem” and a cross? Does it sound like Paul? He’s the one who said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (You might also recall how he endured shipwrecks – 4 of them – and beatings to carry out his calling in Christ).
I’m not pointing fingers at anyone. If I wasn’t such a people-pleaser, I would never have said “yes” to my boss in 1993 when he asked if I would lead a team to Russia to do a camp for orphans. I didn’t want to go to Russia. It didn’t sound safe or wise. And had I not boarded that plane, I would have missed out on the best experiences of my life. I believe I would actually have missed out on the meaning for my life.
Maybe the time has come to take a fearless inventory of your life. Do you lead with “yes” or “no?” When you have the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and do something for the cause of Christ, do you jump out with a “yes” or shrink back with a “no?”
One reason for the absolute refusal of the Jewish people to tolerate idols was that idols freeze one’s understanding of God in stone. The Living God cannot be frozen in stone. Likewise, people in cocoons aren’t going to be of much use to him. Not really.
I hope that you’ll consider making 2019 your year of “YES!” Yes to God. Yes to the needs of others. Yes to a Kingdom-adventure that doesn’t feel as “safe” or “wise” as you wish it did. As Mark Twain once put it, “I have lived a long life and had many troubles, most of which never happened!”
(You might just find your life-changing Kingdom-adventure on the JMI events page!)
– Steve Davis, Founding Director