Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fearless

Back in April I heard Todd White speak at the FCA Convention. Todd is a man of moderate height, built like a Mack truck, with dreadlocks cascading most of the way down his back. He was an atheist and drug addict for 20-some years before being radically saved by Jesus while in Teen Challenge. He now travels the world, in his words, "destroying hell for a living." He prays for nearly everyone he encounters, flows in more or less nonstop words of knowledge, and has seemingly endless energy for spreading the gospel from one end of the world to the other. He is a Holy Spirit wrecking ball on a mission to bring the Lost into the kingdom. At the end of his sermon on the first night of the convention he said, "Is everyone in here a Christian? You should be by now." Then he pointed to a guy halfway back on one side of the auditorium and said, "You, in the red shirt, you don't know Jesus. Get down here right now." The guy walked down front and fell into Todd weeping as a phalanx of Christians surrounded him and prayed with him.
The point is this: I have never met someone as fearless as Todd White. It wasn't all hunky dory at the convention: Todd ruffled quite a few feathers with his intensity, and some of his unorthodox doctrine. But for me, the meat and potatoes of what he was saying was this: "There is a whole world of people who are living in despair, self-hatred, bondage, and depression, and they are desperate for you and me to manifest the love of Jesus that is in us." In his view, this is normal Christianity. Laying hands on the sick, operating in words of prophecy, sharing the love of Christ with everybody - all this should be normal Christianity. 

The thing is, none of this is possible without spending time communing with the Holy Spirit. We have to see the value in being Mary, and just being with Jesus, instead of being Martha and working, working, working for Jesus at the expense of relationship with Him. We have to let his love seep into our pores, or we're never going to care about the Lost, much less put our pride on the back shelf long enough to share Jesus with someone. Sharing your faith, especially in this era, is a very vulnerable thing, and if you don't have an overwhelming urgency for the lost, birthed in you by the love of God for the broken, it will be very hard to overcome your innate desire to be well-liked by everyone, all the time; to not upset the apple cart. 

So I realized, at the convention, that I want those things. I want a relationship with Jesus that isn't about my doing, but about just being with Him, letting him restore my soul. I want to have a burden for people that don't know Him; certainly a more intense burden than I've had the first 31+ years of my life. I want to be fearless in the face of what people will think of me. What about what God wants, and what He thinks of me? 

Twice this summer I have gone with some of the youth to Bemidji to try to find people to pray with. Why Bemidji, you say? Well, because praying for people in Fosston, Bagley, Erskine, McIntosh... - people you may know - is extremely intimidating, and when you've been afraid your whole life, you need to start out small. The first trip, Brady Finseth, Sam Marx and I felt like we struck out. Sure, we talked to a guy in Office Max about Jesus, but he was already a Christian. Sure, we got up the gumption to walk into Planned Parenthood and talk to somebody about Jesus, but it was closed. We were driving home feeling discouraged, until we started thinking, "Hey, we did get to lay our hands on Planned Parenthood's building and pray for an end to abortion. And that guy in Office Max? Maybe he'll feel compelled and encouraged to share his faith." The second trip was last week. Brady, Breanna Carroll and I went, again, to Bemidji. This time we asked a couple people in the mall if we could pray for them. Both immediately said no, and bristled at the suggestion, but as we talked to them they seemed to open up a little. We ultimately didn't pray with them, but we ambushed them in the spirit afterward:), and rejoiced at feeling even a small measure of rejection for the kingdom's sake. We also got to pray with a homeless guy named Gary, who was outside of Walmart, as well as bless him with a food card. Then inside Walmart a cashier said, "Hey, were youse the ones praying with that homeless guy out at the stoplight?" which led to a conversation and some prayer requests from her (Deb) for her husband, Paul, and his health. It's not exactly earth-shattering evangelism, but it is chipping away at our pride and our fear, and what could be more necessary? 

In Philemon, Paul says (v. 6), "...and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ." My friend, Ben Clark, says he believes that Paul is saying to Philemon here that there are certain things we can't know about the heart and character of God until we begin sharing the good news of the gospel of Christ with others. And I want to know the heart and character of God. What's more, I want to have the heart and character of God, which means I want to feel the way He feels about the Lost, and be compelled by Love, not by fear, when it comes to sharing faith. 

"In the end," says the ever provocative Todd White, "I will not be standing before my Father next to a line of people I could have affected for the kingdom but didn't because I was afraid." A resounding AMEN to that, and also to this: that my spiritual wish list, for the rest of my life, would include, instead of anything self-gratifying, simply this prayer: "God, make me FEARLESS for the gospel today, that someone may hear of Your love, and turn and be saved."

TODD WHITE VIDEO


1 comment:

  1. Wow, that is super challenging, Seth! I love what you shared regarding your trips to Bemidji, and your experiences there with the teens. What your friend, Ben, said about there being certain things we can't know about the heart and character of God until we begin sharing the good news of the gospel of Christ with others, reminds me of some of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's writing on the place where faith and action meet. One does not really precede the other - it is both at once. If we wait for faith to come, and then act, there will be no action. If we wait until we feel strong enough to witness, we'll never open our mouths.

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