Now, I myself have never lived through a political revolution and all its inherent dangers. But that does not mean that I, like you, have not seen my share of danger; or else known others who have. And like you, from time to time, I have even seen certain individuals intentionally flirt with danger.
But I have never seen anything like I did this past Sunday morning. As my wife and I were coming across the parking lot and approaching the entrance to the Southern Baptist church we attend, what do you suppose we encountered? I kid you not! A chicken was strutting back and forth right outside the door.
Talk about living dangerously! Do not miss the irony here. After all, Southern Baptists are known for certain things. Above all else, of course, they (we) are referred to as a “People of the Book” due to our love for Holy Scripture.
But like all people everywhere, we also have a propensity for certain earthly delights. And chief among them, perhaps, is our love for “Southern Fried Chicken”. This is especially true of Baptist Pastors. Many a joke has been uttered about entire chickens “entering the ministry” whenever the local minister was invited over for Sunday dinner!
These days, casseroles have largely taken over at church dinners. But most ministers really do not care so much about how the gospel bird is prepared so long as it is actually on the table! Many people are at a loss to explain the love we preachers have for chicken. Perhaps we are somewhat justified in our assault on all things poultry. After all, was it not a rooster that once ratted out poor Simon Peter?! While I personally know of no secretly sworn initiative to get even on Peter’s behalf being undertaken by ministers, many of us still seem to do so quite willingly.
I also do not know what became of the chicken referenced above. It was gone when church let out. I can only assume that in a day and age where people largely acquire pre-packaged meat at the grocery store, it managed to depart the premises intact.
But for the life of me, I simply cannot get the image of it strutting about just outside the door of a Baptist church on a Sunday morning out of my mind. It is obvious that just as God once used the bold crowing of a rooster to speak to the heart of Peter, so also did He use this particular chicken to speak to my own heart. Granted, the latter never once crowed, but its mere presence was enough to declare volumes.
And what was the message it delivered? As I have reflected on this, I have concluded that if its presence in front of the very door through which a multitude of Baptists were passing signified anything, it was surely the power of boldness! And maybe the need for boldness in life is a worthwhile lesson for each of us to ponder anew today.
Frances Schaffer once famously asked the question: “How should we then live?” In a world where we are often opposed, persecuted, and/or oppressed by those who desire to see our demise as believers, how are we to conduct ourselves?
The natural inclination, of course, is simply to play it safe – to sit back and hide ourselves away so as not in any way to endanger ourselves. In high school biology, we learned about the natural tendency of the human body to seek the point of lowest resistance. When we stand, if possible, we lean. When we sit, if possible, we slump. Etc, etc… It’s an apt metaphor for our spiritual behavior as well.
But surely we were not given our bodies for the sole purpose of always taking it easy. We were not given strong skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems only to sit back and play it safe. No, we were given these things to act, to move, to achieve, and to accomplish. And if we always chose to play it safe, none of these things can ever occur. Even worse, there are consequences for continuously failing to utilize these endowments. Unused muscles grow weak, as do bones and reflexes.
Of course, what is true in our physical lives is also true in our spiritual lives. We are not meant simply to sit back and play it safe. We have been gifted by Almighty God with certain spiritual endowments; and we are expected to put these to use for His kingdom. Only by boldly going forth, boldly taking our stand, and boldly engaging this world, especially in the face of opposition, can we ever expect to make any real difference. Only in this way cane we ever have any sort of real victory!
We are free to choose otherwise. But if we choose not to, then our spiritual muscles will surely atrophy. Our spiritual frames will likely grow weak, and we will invariably lose our spiritual edge, becoming complacent, lazy, and soft in the process. And all these things will only serve to make us easy pickings for the enemy!
So don’t live your life always playing it safe, my friends. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Not to mix too many metaphors here, but as more than one pundit has put it, go ahead, get out on that limb, because, after all, that‘s where the fruit is!
How true! Anything worthwhile I have ever achieved, obtained, or enjoyed in life has come about only as a result of my having put forth some amount of effort. This has been true in all areas of my life – from my health to my relationships to my education to my finances to my career. On and on I could go. And it has been true in my faith as well!
So, no matter what you call it - taking the plunge, pushing the envelope, going for broke, etc - it is arguably in our best interest that we should ever be willing to do it!. It might be disconcerting at first, especially if we are unaccustomed to doing so. It might even be seen as dangerous. It will certainly take boldness. But ultimately, that is what we were made for. And that is the only way we will ever have victory!
I leave you with words so often attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”