Ragamuffin Gospel: #9 – The Second Call

Chapter 9

Halftime

This chapter reminds of Bob Buford’s book, Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance1. In October of 1995, I transitioned from the Air Force to civilian life–it was time to move into a new season in my life. The truth is, I’m still growing and trying to figure out what’s next, but this hasn’t prevented me from trying, failing, tripping and falling flat on my face.

As Manning explains, there is a point where we realize something needs to change. Most of the time it takes some significant event is required to jolt us from comfort to action. That’s why preachers and politicians search for words to stir emotions, wake us from our relative comfort zones. I’ve probably just offended a bunch of people by putting preachers and politicians in the same sentence, but sadly I’ve seen both use tactics to provoke people to action.

We must reach a point of holy discontent, of righteous indignation, a place where we know something inside us must change. How we arrive at this point matters if we want it to stick. It’s not a New Years resolution to lose ten pounds, it’s a lifestyle change that just happens to result in losing weight. More significantly, we must reach the point where we see the door closing, where we understand the words of Jesus in the parable of the wedding banquet and simply can’t sit still, Matthew 22:14: “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

The second journey begins when we know we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the morning program.

(After reading this, Chaotic Love (You’re The One That Really Matters) started playing in my head over and over again!)

In our cynical society we are reminded that one individual cannot make a difference, that we are insignificant. Over and over again, Satan uses such tactics to keep us down, to make us believe we’re wallowing in pride when we have a God-inspired idea. The Adversary wants us to be self-conscious about singing out, raising our hands, pouring our hearts out. Sadly, this is true too much of the time, but we have the antidote in front of us, printed in numerous languages and styles, God’s word is there for us to “grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 3:18. Use the Bible to learn, to grow, but Lord teach us to get out of our comfort zones and into the world that desperately needs to see the word in action.

Lord, I pray that we become a people that understands from the deepest part of our being that “you’re the One that really matters.” And in that knowledge we find the faith, hope and love to act.

From the Chapter

  • The second call is a summons to a deeper, more mature commitment of faith where the naïveté, first fervor, and untested idealism of the morning and the first commitment have been seasoned with pain, rejection, failure, loneliness, and self-knowledge.
  • Three obstacles: a crisis of faith, of hope and of love.
  • #1 Faith.
    • God’s answer: The next time you preach about My love with such obnoxious familiarity, I may just come and blow your whole prayer meeting apart.
    • Evangelical faith is the antithesis of lukewarm news: It always means a profound dissatisfaction with our present state.
    • If we are criticized, let it be for the right reasons: because we are not emotional enough, because our emotions are puny, because we lack a deep, passionate, uncompromising affection for Jesus Christ.
    • We need to ask ourselves: Do I really believe the Good News of Jesus Christ? Do I hear His word spoken to my heart?
  • #2 Hope
    • Matthew 22 describes a feast. Do we really believe we are going to a wedding feast that has already begun?
    • Our hope, our acceptance of the invitation to the banquet, is based on the idea that we will triumph over pain and suffering (not escape it).
    • To really be a disciple of Jesus, one must be as committed to the message of the kingdom as He was, and to preach it whether or not the audience finds it relevant.
    • The issue is not whether the world considers it relevant; it’s whether it is true.
  • #3 Love
    • We must love and, even more, we must run the risk of being loved.
    • God wants us back even more than we could possibly want to be back.
  • One significant barrier: fear. We are afraid of failure.
  • We tend to think we have to project some image of perfection:
    • It’s simply not true
    • Keeps us from reaching the lost
    • it would be a shallow existence
  • Depth of character is achieved by one who has failed and who has learned to live with it.
  • God longs for someone daring enough to be different, humble enough to make mistakes, wild enough to be burned in the fire of love, real enough to make others see how phone we are.

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Notes:

1 Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance, by Bob P. Buford et al.

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