Better than Appearing Responsible

Author | Steve

[This is part two in a four-part series. Check out the other posts here: “Better than More”  “Better than Appearing Responsible (Pt 2)”  “Better than My Plans and $” ]

Confessions

I have a confession to make: my last post I came off sounding way more sold out on Jesus being better than the ‘more’ the world advertises than I really am. I actually struggle with making an idol of ‘more’ over and over. The gift Jesus has been giving me this year is the renewing of my mind and the transforming of my heart to recognize and trust Him above any other god, even the god of ‘more.’ This is incredibly hard for me, but not for Jesus.

That leads me to a more deep-seated idol that Jesus is toppling in my life right now: needing to be seen as responsible and smart.

Now you might be thinking, “What’s wrong with that?” And I would give you a high-five and say, “Yeah! I know!” But here’s the thing: when being known as responsible and smart becomes more important to me than being who Jesus calls me to be, it becomes an idol – a devastating one that demands my life.

when being known as responsible and smart becomes more important to me than being who Jesus calls me to be, it becomes an idol – a devastating one that demands my life

Why’d They Do That?

As we traveled around this year, we started a routine where I read a book to the kids before bed. Our first book we tackled was “God’s Smuggler,” the story of Brother Andrew, who smuggled Bibles behind the Iron Curtain just after WWII. Not long after that we read the fictional book “Safely Home,” which tells the harrowing story of Chinese house-church Christians. More recently, we read “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom – the story of a Dutch family who risked everything to hide Jews during the German occupation.

In all of these stories I was struck by the risks these people took because of their faith. The Ten Boom family owned a reputable clock shop. They could have marketed their wares to German soldiers, providing for their family during a very tenuous time. That would have been responsible. But they didn’t. Instead, they used their clock shop and home as the central nervous system of an entire underground operation to save the lives of Jewish people who were marked for death. This decision would ultimately cost some of the Ten Boom family their own lives.

As these stories rang in my ears, I thought of Abram being called to leave the land he knew and start a journey whose destination was unknown. I thought of disciples dropping their nets – their livelihoods, their families – and following Jesus into the great unknown. I thought of Mary and Joseph making the grueling trip to Bethlehem in her ninth month of pregnancy only to find no place to stay but a cattle stall. As this symphony of lives taking impossibly irresponsible action rose in my mind, I thought to myself, “I’ve spent all my life making sure I never get into these kinds of situations. It would be foolish.”

I thought to myself, “I’ve spent all my life making sure I never get into these kinds of situations. It would be foolish.”

Safe from What?

Slowly, over time, I’ve recognized this more and more about myself: I work really hard to stay safe and steer clear of risky situations that would require more than I can do or see. I try my best to be prudent and responsible and smart about the choices I make and the plans I pursue so I don’t have to rely on someone else or faith or miracles…or Jesus.

I try my best to be prudent and responsible and smart about the choices I make and the plans I pursue so I don’t have to rely on someone else or faith or miracles…or Jesus.

For some reason Jesus has decided to take aim at this idol in my life. While painful, I’m beginning to see the freedom and the beauty He gives in return. I thought I was protecting myself from heartache and pain, but really I was only protecting myself from seeing the glory and grace and faithfulness of God.

I thought I was protecting myself from heartache and pain, but really I was only protecting myself from seeing the glory and grace and faithfulness of God.

I’m slowly discovering this amazing truth: looking foolish for trusting Jesus is better than looking responsible and smart to people. Trusting Jesus leads you on adventures you would never let yourself start if it was up to you. Trusting Jesus sends you into dark places you never would have entered to be light to broken people. Trusting Jesus has you serving lunch to 5,000 stunned and grateful people instead of sending them away because you couldn’t figure it out on your own.

looking foolish for trusting Jesus is better than looking responsible and smart to people

When I’m seeking the approval of others above God’s approval of me in Jesus, I’m already headed toward failure not matter how successful I am at reaching my goals. Now, I still fall down while trusting Jesus; but Jesus doesn’t let my falling turn into failure. He is more than capable, and willing, to pick me up every time. And as my story illustrates…He’s even more than capable and willing to stop my successful journey toward failure because of His deep love for me.

Jesus is Better

I’ve got to be honest with you – this scares the hell out of me! I want so bad to be understood. I want so bad to be thought well of. But more and more, Jesus is freeing me of living for what looks good to the common eye. He’s freeing me to live with Him. And life with Jesus often looks foolish, full of things that don’t happen when I’m living for an audience other than Him: unexplained miracles instead of reaching defined goals, grace instead of earnings, joyful suffering instead of fearful success.

life with Jesus often looks foolish…unexplained miracles instead of reaching defined goals, grace instead of earnings, joyful suffering instead of fearful success.

Jesus is better. His ways are higher than our ways. So whoever’s approval you are living for, Jesus invites you to something better. Trust Him. You’ll see things you never would have dreamed…much less accomplished! And you will glow in the glory that is all His!

 

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