What Are We Afraid of?

In his book, Chasing Daylight: Seize the power of every moment, Irwin McManus wrote the following intriguing comment:

You would think that having unlimited options would be the platform for freedom, but that is often not the case. We (i.e., Christians) have put so much emphasis on avoiding evil that we have become virtually blind to the endless opportunities for doing good. We have defined holiness through what we separate ourselves from rather than what we give ourselves to. I am convinced the great tragedy is not the sins we commit, but the life we fail to lead.

During the children’s story in church, the pastor asked if any of the children knew what a saint was. One little boy who had been looking intently at a stained glass window on the side wall and appeared not to be listening to the minister at all quickly shot up his hand. Pointing to the window, he said, saints are people that the light shines through.

How far, sadly, is the reality of our lives—we who are called to the saints of God—from the invitation and promise of the gospel. We live, as McManus later suggests, such buttoned-down, terrified, mean existences when all the time Jesus invites us to discover in him life in all its beauty, fullness and joy. Or as Mike Yaconelli would put it, we fail to take hold of life in all its “dangerous wonder.” And rather than being people through whom the light and loveliness of Jesus shines with beckoning appeal, we Christians often appear to the watching world as angry malcontents who are defined primarily by what we are against.

When the apostle Peter dared to step across all appropriate religious and social standards and enter the home of the gentile, Cornelius, he shared the happy news about “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him (Acts 10:38). I wonder what the watching world would think if they beheld Christians kicking over the traces of conventional and dead religiosity, and begin really to live in the freedom and power of Jesus? I believe that more than anything, the watching world longs to behold a church that recklessly, prodigally and joyfully living out radical, unconditional and contagious goodness for the sake of the sheer joy of letting the Light shine through us.