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Ever notice how participants in church-based “small groups” find ways to maintain distance behind non-controversial opinions and responses . . . even going so far as to allow twenty percent of our “holy huddles” to offer eighty percent of the spoken “commentary”? Often left behind in the haze of hesitation are the most soul-wrenching questions which Philip Yancey candidly acknowledges, “Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to”.
When you stop to consider that 75% of the modern missionary and cross-cultural evangelism movement has been propagated by women, perhaps John Eldredge rightly offers that a church culture of “distance-control” is most harmful to men,
“Every man was once a boy and every little boy has dreams, big dreams . . . but what happens to those dreams when we grow up? Walk into most churches, have a look around, and ask yourself: What is a Christian man? Without listening to what is said, look at what you find there. Most Christian men are . . . bored.”
Even in churches that “keep it real”, the candor of many passionate men in the Bible would be viewed as a cancer in the “community of the careful”. Not a lot of “holding back” in 85 year-old Caleb’s pronouncement, “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” (Joshua 14:11) . . . or in Job’s questions to God, “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target?” (Job 7:20) . . . or in Peter’s audacious promise “Even if all the others reject you, I never will!” (Mark 14:29).
In a world that “plays it safe”, we are so reminded that there was nothing safe about the cross of Christ . . . nor in the response it demands,
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:1-2
This is David “JB” Miller acknowledging that when you reflect on these “all-in” men of God we discover in Scripture, you encounter faith-filled personalities that were unafraid of lives close at hand . . . and lives at a distance . . . knowing exactly where they stood . . . and you can’t help but wonder . . . am I living out my faith . . . or just living around the faith . . . faith that only be found . . . at the foot . . .
. . . of the candid cross?