Passionate Desperation

desperate

Luke 11:8 I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his friend’s persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

 

The father with a possessed son cried out an admission of faithlessness. A sick woman was a nuisance as she intruded on people to make her way to Christ. A Greek woman with a possessed daughter made herself to be a dog before the Master. A tax collector that everyone hated climbed a tree where everyone could see him. A man with a deformity stood up in the middle of church. A blind man cried out incessantly for the Son of David to have mercy on him even when people shamed him for doing so.

They all got what they wanted.

Are you desperate?

Could there be any truth that our nation has fallen away from God because we’re not desperate? Have we deviated from pure, undefiled religion to man’s prescribed liturgy in which our short time of prayer and petition is reserved, polite and careful?

God doesn’t want us to be reserved, polite and careful. He’s not going to be overwhelmed, offended or injured.  Since salvation came 2000 years ago, people of all different tribes and tongues have, in desperation, madly and violently accessed the Kingdom of Heaven. And on their behalf, the Kingdom of Heaven has been moved.

This is the lesson for us in Luke 11:8. Jesus is teaching His disciples first “the Lord’s prayer” or what to pray (v. 2-4). He concludes by teaching them what to expect; the Holy Spirit when they pray (v. 10-13). But here in verse 8, He tells us how to pray.

“yet because of his friend’s persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”

“Persistence” is how most versions translate ἀναίδεια anaídeia. It’s a compound word literally meaning without shame. My concordance uses words like

shameless       reckless       audacity

It’s more than a persistent incessant knocking. It’s a pounding at the door of heaven.

It’s not just politely, quietly asking. It’s pleading like an injured beggar.

It’s not just leisurely seeking. It’s a desperate hunt in pitch darkness for a single key that opens your only door to light and life.

How are you praying?

Consider that God’s hope for you, your family, your city is not on His heart as a mere wish but beats with a passion epitomized at the cross. How shameless, how audacious, how reckless was the cross! But it was for the joy of you and me that He endured it.

Reciprocate.

Your careful, polite, reserved prayer is a light knock at God’s door with no admission of your real need and no real expectation that He will come and answer.

To hell with that kind of prayer. I want heaven, instead.

Happy Ride?

roller coaster

Luke 10:20 However, don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Attributed to an Indian spiritualist, Meher Baba, is the phrase that became the title of a number one hit in 1988. Don’t Worry Be Happy. Nice thought packaged in a mellow melody. However, a simple contrast of worry and happiness does little to describe the real relationship between the two.

The highs of happiness and the lows of worry are part of the same roller-coaster ride. In this passage, Christ is admonishing us to get off of it.

We spent Monday morning as a ministry team talking about the uselessness of worry. It was a great discussion, but to focus on the reasons why we worry without focusing on the reasons why we’re happy is to ignore that for every roller coaster high, there’s a low, too.

So, what makes you happy?

Realtors are happy when they sell a million dollar home. Shoppers are happy in the mall.  Teens are happy when parents hand over a set of car keys. A college student is happy they graduated.  And ministers? They’re happy when people are healed, delivered and saved.

Here’s the problem.  What if the realtor doesn’t make the sale? What if the teen never gets the car? What if the student doesn’t graduate or the minister doesn’t see any fruit?

To find happiness in highs that are unsure or temporary is to set ourselves up for worry when we’re on the decline, or worse yet despair when we’re at the bottom.  Highs are followed by lows.

After being sent out, the disciples returned happy. They had witnessed many miracles, healing the sick and casting out demons.  Of all the things on earth in which to rejoice, surely this would be the most justified.

Yet, Christ told them, “Don’t.”

“Don’t rejoice that spirits submit to you…”

The Greek word for rejoice is the one from which we get “charisma”.

They had spiritual power, ministry success and probably fame.  They were on a charismatic high. Charisma is not a bad thing but it’s often misdirected. In this passage, Jesus is telling us to restrain from rejoicing in power, success or fame.  There will be a day when power is gone, success succumbs to failure and fame fades. Then what? Worry, depression and despair.

Rather than “Don’t Worry Be Happy” a better song title might have been “Don’t Worry About Being Happy.”

Instead, be happy in He who is unchanging and that you are secure with Him forever. Rejoice that your name is written in heaven.

The Power in Possible

possible

Luke 9:12  Late in the day, the Twelve approached and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.”

Andy paced nervously. “What is it?” Bart asked.

“I think we’re in trouble here,” He responded. “Look at how many people there are. Thousands of them have come out. No food. No plan for the night.” He shook his head. “It’s like sheep led to a slaughter.” 

James reclined, but was snapped out of his daydream by the word ‘slaughter’ and added in, “It’s their fault, Andy. They’re about to learn a hard lesson on personal responsibility.”  

“Yeah,” Pete agreed. “All I know is I’m hungry and we brought food. They’re hungry and they didn’t. I think that’s their problem.”

John’s peaceful voice broke into the conversation. “Guys. He hasn’t eaten.  The people haven’t eaten. We are not eating. We’ll fast with them if we must.”

“I doubt that,” Tom piped up.

“Me, too” Pete agreed.

Matt and Phil knelt together whispering about something. Matt was scratching numbers in the dirt and Phil was pointing to the setting sun with one hand and the early rising of the moon with the other. They dusted their hands off and stood up as Matt addressed his friends, “I’ve crunched the numbers. If the people leave now, they’ll make it to the nearest town before nightfall.”

“I doubt that.” Tom’s interjection was ignored.

Pete led out. “Then I move that we tell Jesus to send them home.”  

“I second that,” Judas agreed. He had grown tired of listening to Jesus, anyway. 

All twelve had tuned out. Jesus’ voice continued on sharing the good news to all who had come but was merely background noise to his close followers who were trying to solve a problem.

After five more minutes of discussion, they passed their motion and approached Jesus. “Send them home,” they said.

Winston Churchill, England’s leader in WWII did something he didn’t want to do. He partnered with Russia’s communist Stalin when Germany invaded Russia. Why did he do it? Because it was the lesser of two evils. Either he partnered with Russia or Germany might conquer them all.  Sarcastically, Churchill encapsulated the ‘lesser of two evils’ principle;

If Hitler invaded hell, I’d at least give honorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

Wow. Churchill obviously felt his lesser of two evils was still quite evil.

The disciples’ decision to approach Jesus with that solution was also based on the ‘lesser of two evils’ principle. Either the people left Jesus now or they would be in danger. It was a logical human deduction, but Jesus had a third option that was not human at all.

It’s human nature to apply human solutions to human problems. But it certainly isn’t God’s nature. Does the Spirit in us want to apply human solutions? Maybe sometimes, but certainly not always. Too often, however, our human nature prevails and we shelve the possibility of the miraculous.

Possibility.

The word’s root is Latin, “posse” meaning potent or powerful. I think we too often take God’s posse out of possibility.

Is it possible your marriage could be reconciled? Is it possible you could give up a decade old habit? Is it possible you could be healed when the oncologist has given up?

The disciples dismissed the unlikely as impossible. But God loves to work in the unlikely and He hasn’t given us faith to live bound in a ‘lesser of two evils’ world. We’ve been translated into a supernatural kingdom with a supernatural king who wants us to believe that nothing is impossible with Him.