Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

Yesterday, Keith Simon delivered what I personally would rate as one of the Top 10 sermons I have ever heard…maybe even Top 5. And I am not limiting that statement to the pastors and guest speakers that I have had the privilege of learning from at The Crossing for the past 14 years. I mean everyone that I have ever heard preach, including the John Pipers, Paul Tripps and Matt Chandlers that currently dot the evangelical landscape. If you missed hearing what Keith had to say on May 17th, I urge you to stop reading this blog right now and click over to The Crossing Mobile Apps page or visit The Crossing website and spend 34 minutes listening to Keith preach on The Power To Live Courageously, taken from 1 Corinthians 15:30-32:

Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
1 Corinthians 15:30-32 (ESV)

The Crossing Mobile AppsThis past week, “coincidentally,” I have also been listening to David Platt read his book Radical. In 2011, I had the opportunity to hear Platt speak at one of the Desiring God conferences in Minneapolis on the topic of The Glory of God, the Lostness of Man, and the Gospel of Christ. Funny now to think that I have a more vivid memory of him being humorously introduced by one of his colleagues – “David Platt, who just last week was eligible to get his driver’s license” – than I do of what Platt had to say in that 55-minute address.

Put simply, I can tell that my selfish human heart still resists the message that Platt is bringing to us through his book and his ministry. Platt seems to believe – really believe – that our lives are immeasurably enriched when we stop trying to enrich ourselves and rather look outward at how we might bless and enrich others.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus assures us that if we will just do His bidding and minister to a dying world, He will take care of our needs – though not necessarily our desires. My wife and I have tried to take this verse to heart as we move out into the lives of others who are hurting, and we have both found that Jesus is indeed true to His promise. Somehow, as we minister to others and “forget” our own needs, He provides. He just does. It’s what He loves to do.

For his part, I really think Keith drove this point home yesterday by addressing the very real fears that everyone has as they hesitate to step out in faith. Truth be told, we are timid little woodland animals when it comes to surrendering control over our homes, salaries, 401K plans and bright, shiny SUVs. In that sense, I am no different than anyone else; the idea of my children growing up in some dumpy home with bad plumbing and “sketchy neighbors” holds zero appeal for me. I would much rather focus on the financial security necessary to make sure that never happens. But it’s exactly there, at my bank account’s bottom line, where I have a strong opportunity to trust Christ with my life, something much easier said than done.

Radical by David PlattYou and I can quickly make a list of our worst fears simply by itemizing those things that we are not yet prepared to surrender to Jesus. Imagine for a moment – what do you fear losing if you were to give your life and everything in it – to the merciful hand of God? Do you fear losing your nice home in the suburbs? Write it down. Do you fear losing your friends and business associates who are unbelievers or (at best) marginal Christians? Write it down. Nice car? Private school? You get the idea.

The net effect of creating such a list – for me, anyway – is simply to show me where my idolatry lives and what I am enslaved to. Rather than condemning myself, though, I simply pray over the list, item by item, and ask the Spirit of God to work in my heart such that I am “willing to be willing” to surrender each and every item to His Lordship. Freedom from holding tight to these things comes when we have the courage to live for God’s kingdom first, recognizing that He is the only treasure that will last.

I still have a ways to go with this, of course…we are all in process. Still, my experience to date is that I absolutely cannot “outgive” Jesus. My wife and I enter into ministry for people suffering through separation and divorce, giving up a lot of our time and energy; He gives us some of the best friends we have ever had. I enter into ministry for those struggling with addictive sin patterns of one sort or another; He gives me some of the most joy-filled moments of my life, either as I get to witness a person’s life make a complete turnaround or just share a deep belly-laugh with even more new friends.

Keith’s message? God provides the power we need to live courageous lives of self-sacrifice. Platt’s message? The “stuff” we Americans tend to spend all our time, energy and money on will all belong to someone else some day or otherwise turn to dust. My only contribution would be to add to these Rick Warren‘s “drumbeat” message that you cannot possibly give more to God than He will freely give back to you, and to strongly encourage each and every one of us: “Give it a shot.”

Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Romans 8:31-32
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.
“Me and Bobby McGee” by Kris Kristofferson

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