Poodles are cute. If I was choosing between a lion and a poodle as a pet, I would chose a poodle. But if I was lost in the woods, I would want the protection of a lion. Of course, only if I was friends with the lion.
In C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” Mr. Beaver is explaining to the children about Aslan the lion. Aslan is the Christ figure in the book and having never met a lion before, the children ask, “Is he safe?” Mr. Beaver replies, “Oh no…… He is not safe, but he is good.”
The modern church has made the word “safe” synonymous with “good.” This has caused us to misunderstand Jesus’ call to discipleship. We have come to see following Jesus as a comfortable life. We follow Jesus to the church and attempt to make it a cushioned reality.
If we were to take a quick scan through the bible, we would discover there is nothing comfortable about following Jesus. David standing before the Philistine giant says, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Three Jewish boys about to be thrown into a fiery furnace declare, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Esther hearing about the possible genocide of her people, tells her uncle, “I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” She does this after being questioned by her uncle, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Teenager Mary after hearing she would carry the hope of the world in her womb says, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Then later she hears from a prophet in the temple, “A sword will pierce your very soul.”
When the greatest authority in your life is a God who refuses to stay dead after he is killed, then it is going to take boldness to follow. It will require leaving comfortable places, confronting controversial issues, and challenging the status quo. It requires a bold faith.
In Acts 4 when Peter and John are told rather forcefully by the religious officials to remain quite about their preaching of Jesus and the resurrection, they spoke even more boldly. What made them stand out was not their communication skills or their biblical knowledge, but their boldness. The scripture says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
The thing that excites me about the followers of Jesus in the millennial generation is I see their boldness. They are the generation that sees upfront what only my generation has seen at a distance. They are the generation that speaks loudly where the generations before has only whispered. They are the generation that leads with their hand and feet where the generations before only talk of the good fight. The next generation is showing all of us what it means to be beautifully bold.
Where my generation has taken a poodle, dressed it up like a lion and call it faithful living. The next generation is exposing the poodles in the church and chasing after the lion of Judah. I am hopeful that this generation is going to teach us all how to live like Jesus in the modern world.
Erwin McManus, a pastor and author in California, has written, “We have put so much emphasis on avoiding evil that we have become virtually blind to the endless opportunities for doing good. We have defined holiness through what we separate ourselves from rather than what we give ourselves to. I am convinced the great tragedy is not the sins that we commit, but the life we fail to live. You cannot follow God in neutral. God has created you to do something. It is not enough to stop the wrong and then be paralyzed when it comes to the right. God created you to do good.”
Here is my challenge to you: Don’t attempt to discover who you are in the presence of people. Discover who you are in the presence of God. Live your life chasing after the Lion of Judah. Don’t be afraid of the frontier places that he may lead you. Don’t get distracted by the poodles that my generation have put in front of you. You are created in the image of a God who chose to be identified as a Lion. As a follower of the Lion of Judah, you are seeking after an untamed, unsettled, resurrected Christ. Look for the paw prints of a lion in your life and follow them. Be beautifully bold in how you live this next chapter of your life. Where is God calling you to be beautifully bold?
Message given to a group of high school students at a graduation dinner in Gainesville, Ga