Hi, Rob here. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? My son’s reached the age (nearly 6) where he talks about this kind of stuff, and he’s decided he’s going to be a soldier (a step up from when he wanted to be a robber!) and fight in a war. As you can guess, Mum is stoked. Not!! So he’s taken to making toy guns, but we know his heart’s not really in it because his gun shoots toothpaste apparently. He also makes pictures with hearts and “I love you’ and gives them to his mum, so I don’t think she’s got too much to worry about. But, I love that contrast in him of loving tenderness and the desire to be dangerous. It reminds me of Jesus.
It’s amazing to me how many pictures of Jesus are so ‘sweet’. Sickly sweet. He has perfect teeth, long wavy hair and is always carrying an animal or small child. Yet, the Jesus I read about in the gospels is always picking fights with the religious authorities, breaking the ‘rules’ around Sabbath and cleanliness, casting out demons with absolute authority as well as healing the sick, restoring the outcasts and welcoming the little children. Jesus was dangerous, fierce and a warrior. He was also kind, tender and merciful. He was always the personification of love in action. He opposed what was evil and embraced what was good. He stood for humanity by standing against all that was destructive to our hearts.
I too often forget that my heart is opposed by an enemy bent on my destruction. I suspect that you are too. This is because life is often pleasant. Things go well most of the time. The church I work for is a happy and unified one the vast majority of the time. I have good friendships, our income is adequate and our kids behave well most of the time. I live in a beautiful, friendly, tolerant, wealthy, gold-medal winning country. Where’s the opposition? But then I realise that it’s in the forgetfulness that the enemy is present. If I perceive life as fundamentally pleasant then I forget to fight for the hearts of my children; I forget to warn people of the dangers of idols like money, comfort and possessions; I forget to pray; I forget my need for the cross and grace and mercy; I forget that I need God. The ever-present danger in a society like mine is that we learn to live as if God doesn’t exist (to paraphrase Craig M. Gay). And if we do that then the enemy has won.
So as I reflect on what Jesus fought for and fought against, I sense a renewed call to fight this complacency that creeps into my life. I press into 1 Peter 5:8-10.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your fellow believers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
Paul also tells us in Ephesians 5 that we need to be fully armed, willing and able to stand against Satan and his schemes:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against fleesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (Ephesians 5:10-14).”
There’s something in my boy that wants to be dangerous. Me too! In the words of an old Undercover song (see below) it’s the call of Jesus saying, “Love me Dangerously.” Not pleasantly or sweetly, but dangerously. It’s a battle and the battle belongs to Jesus. Let’s fight with him for our hearts and the hearts of others.