I did some research and found out that Ostriches don't really bury their heads in the sand to escape. That myth probably started with a guy named Pliny the Elder...what's up with naming your kid "Pliny?" He was a naturalist and started the thought they would stick their heads in a bush and think that a predator couldn't see them since the Ostrich couldn't see the predator. I guess maybe they were thinking, "If I don't know what's there....it can't get me." Even though the metaphor doesn't work because of a naturalist's myth, it seems like the church sometimes lives this way regarding the hard teaching of scripture.
This past weekend one of my co-laborers in ministry and I presented Luke 14. Starting with the Parable of the Banquet and preceding right to the end of chapter 14 where Jesus sets up a high bar that everyone who wants to be a disciple has to jump over, it was an exercise in pulling the ostrich's head out of the sand. These kind of messages are never fun and this one proved disturbing to many. The good thing is that David and I tried our best to stay away from our own opinions and simply read the statements of Jesus in scripture....the bad thing is that Jesus' statements are & were more disturbing than anything we could come up with on our own. Many that were there responded on the journal sheets we provided with very thoughtful, convicting offerings of change and hope....these were left at the communion table during a responsive worship time. Two families, that we know of, got up and walked out halfway through the teaching. I won't take this personally and guess I should be happy only two left, since everytime Jesus spoke He was more or less inviting people to leave.
This makes me wonder what most of the encounters really sounded like when Jesus taught. I wish I had just one Youtube of Him teaching to know the audible tone he used when presenting such teachings as, "anyone who does not take up his cross is not worthy of being my disciple." No matter how much apology is offered up front, a teaching that comes from the "red letters" will most often rattle the cage of your life.....or for this blog....pull your head out of the sand. (even though they don't really do that:)
We, as the body of Christ, love to stick our heads in the sand, in bushes, whatever... If we don't know it's there....we don't have to do it...we don't have to recognize the danger of our identity as disciples. Our jobs as leaders seem to be to remind people, and ourselves, what Jesus taught, pulling the heads out. This is not always a comfortable place to go and brings more questions about our relationship with Jesus than pats on the back of how good we're doing. We think that if we can't see or don't see the dangers of knowing what Jesus really wants, then we don't have to answer for it and He will give us a pass on it. The more I study passages like Luke 14 and James 2, the more I think this isn't the case. I wrestle with passages about the eye of a needle, how rich people get into heaven & what the fruit of real faith looks like, and I just get a pit in my stomach. Still, we cannot re-cannonize our own personal bibles that fit into our lives and schedules. Faith and Salvation are still on God's terms.
I guess my main desire is to be a presenter of the truth....not what I want to hear or what my friends or church wants to hear.....but what Jesus, Paul and other writers of scripture taught. Authors like David Platt and Fancis Chan have helped me bring balance to the force though. They pulled my head out of the sand and see the balance of grace and works. I'm still working on my doctrinal statement regarding the working out of faith thru works but to say that I've had a shift in my theology thru studying this subject would be fair.
My wife asked me during the service, "aren't you scared of what God will ask us to do?" My answer was "yes." But just because I didn't recognize the danger of following Jesus (having my head in bush), didn't mean that the danger wasn't there once I really looked at the truth. It's always been there...maybe I just didn't want to see it.