This Dangerous Business
When I share Jesus with you, I don't share Him promising you wealth or ease. Instead, I promise that if you take the risk of following Him, you will die deaths you can't even begin to imagine right now.
If you follow Him, I doubt that He will entrust you with much money, (though He could). It is far more likely that He will teach you to live without depending upon it. He will show you that you have loved it too much, and He will begin to pry your fingers from it.
When I invite you to follow Jesus, I do not invite you to join a dominant cultural movement. I do not promise you refuge inside a comfortable group of educated, upper class, white people. Rather, I invite you to meet a God who will find ways to push you out of your regular social groove into questions you don't even realize you need to ask and apologies you don't even realize you need to make.
He will no longer let you pass by the poor without your heart breaking. He will no longer let you look out at the orphans as statistics. Lost children will become your sons and daughters, and in the faces of the elderly and the widowed, you will find the faces of your own parents.
If you follow Jesus, you will begin to feel alienated in many religious settings. You will not fit in right-wing groups that attempt to control men and women by rules and fear. You will not fit in left-wing groups that attempt to use religious freedom as an excuse for selfish living.
Your joys will change, too. No longer will you find your biggest thrill in sleeping around, in getting high, in buying things. You will try to chase these old things for a while, and they will still medicate you for a moment or two. But they will no longer thrill you for long. They will begin to cause a cramp in your gut. You will be like a young dog returning to a mother's teet that has dried up. You will try to nurse then be weaned from old distractions.
But neither will you find any joy in criticizing others who still find their greatest pleasures in sex, alcohol, drugs, or money. You will see them chasing after the wind and feel sharp sorrow and concern. You will not be able to revel in the mistakes of others... instead you will feel their straining like a deep weight and hunger in your heart.
You will wake up and find yourself turning down old pleasures, not out of a desire to appease God, but out of a desire to fill up with with more of Him instead.
As your old methods of escape rise up as barriers, you will begin to feel a tremendous nakedness in yourself, as if you are standing in the universe with one great, solitary want. You will see that you have chosen what could never be replaced, should it fall away. You will see that you have burned all of your bridges, and that will catch your breath in your throat, and you will realize that you have been homesick for as long as you can remember.
If you follow Jesus, I doubt that He will make you famous or comfortable. You probably won't ever get to build a theme park, or a mega church. You are unlikely to release a record, or write an award-winning book, or speak before millions. It is more likely that He will invite you to wash the dishes, or plant a garden, or wash a poor man's feet.
If you follow Jesus, you will also be misunderstood. You will be hated and mocked because of things you do not believe and never have. You will be grouped together with those who do not know Jesus, but who use His name for their own purposes. You will have nothing in common with those who abuse the name of God, and yet your opponents will not listen when you try to explain the difference.
In this tension, you will learn to live among imitators, among charlatans, among liars. Through smoke and mirrors, through jeering, and through all manners of abuse of God's name, you will learn to recognize the voice of the True Shepherd, and you will learn to love it more than any other voice, and you will learn to walk toward it.
When I invite you to know my Jesus, I do not invite you into easy answers. I do not invite you into power that you will ever be able to wield at will. I do not invite you into a company of mighty men who will move with you to take over the earth.
I invite you into the company of those of who are learning the limits of even our best strengths. I invite you to walk with us through to the ends of science, to the ends of music, to the ends of math, to the ends of art, to the ends of compassion, to the ends of every good and hearty work of all of humankind, to stand bare before the heavens upon the glory of the earth and instead of clenching your fingers, letting them open.
I invite you to know Truth which is more than truth. I invite you to know Love which is more than love. I invite you to know a living Person you have always known must be, the One who has allowed you to thirst - and who will allow you to thirst again - so that you can learn to drink from water that will never run dry.
It is not a small invitation. It is the most expensive one you will ever receive, the most difficult, the most confusing, the most clarifying, the most humbling, the most deep, the most honest, and the most beautiful.
I would not offer it to you cheaply, and I would not have you receive it recklessly. Though some try to sweeten the pot, I will warn you instead. This is dangerous business.
Knowing Jesus will cost you all you have. It will likely kill you.
But I would be cruel to offer Him to you if I didn't know that some deaths are worth dying. The old life passes away, and the new life comes. We are buried with Him into darkness, and then we are raised with Him into the light.