Earp Takes Aim | Faith, Culture, Life

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Burn your Boats!

For centuries, the British Isles enjoyed a natural defense against enemy invasion.  A channel of water separates Britain from the rest of the continent.  And that sliver of water has spared England much of the heartache her European counterparts have suffered. 

But it wasn’t just the channel that kept enemies at bay— it was also the people.  See, English people weren’t always the calm, genteel, and cultured crowd we consider them today.  In the past, Britain as inhabited by savages.  The Celts, the Danes, and the Vikings viciously ruled that land!  And they were CRAZY people! 

So crazy…most Europeans considered them uncivilized brutes and barely more than demon-possessed hell-raisers!

In fact, many an invasion of Britain was cut short when an invading army would get off their boats prepared to fight, only to see thousands of naked savages, bodies covered with paint and heads adorned with horned-helmets— roaring down the mountainside, screaming and brandishing their weapons! 

What would the invading army do?  What would you do?  They scrambled for their boats and headed home!

Until August 55 B.C. when Julius Caesar— General of the Republican Army of Rome— decided to invade.  ‘Cept he was determined to conquer it! 

His advisors tried to talk him outta it:  “You can’t defeat those animals!  Even if you do, you can’t rule ‘em!  Those people are nuts!” 

But Caesar went anyway.  And when the natives saw his armies approaching and the banners declaring the glory of Rome, they donned their helmets, painted their bodies, and charged down that hill! 

‘Cept Caesar didn’t budge. 

They screamed…like crazed lunatics. 

He wasn’t impressed. 

So they waved their weapons…dancing, screaming and taunting. 

What they didn’t realize is Caesar couldn’t leave if he wanted to.  Cuz as soon as the Romans landed, Caesar ordered every boat in the fleet…burned!  Within days, Caesar had conquered the unconquerable land of England. 

Why?  CUZ he burned his boats! 

Wow!  Whaddaya do with a man who burns his boats?  You either surrender or prepare to die!  Cuz that dude means business!  And is committed even to the bitter end!

Remember those 56 men who bravely signed the Declaration of Independence back on July 4, 1776?  Not your average wild-eyed rabble-rousers.  They were men of means, wealthy landowners— educated statesmen.  To the man, they already enjoyed financial security, but…they wanted freedom even more.  So they gathered in Philadelphia and pledged,

“For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” 

most WOULD PAY that pledge.  Of the 56 signers, five were captured and executed.  Nine died in battle.  Twelve had their homes sacked, looted or burned.  Two lost sons in battle.  One lost two sons. 

They paid a heavy price.  But see, they’d burned their boats!  So there was no turning back!  And we are the grateful inheritors of their courage! 

Grab any history book, scan it, and you’ll find that same story line.  Those courageous heroes who led revolutions, who purchased freedom, who brought justice to the oppressed; they were nothing more than regular Joes like us— except this:  they were willing to pay the price. 

To burn their boats…and put it all on the line for what they believed. 

 

What I want you to see today— is this same principle holds true in the spiritual realm.  Cuz that’s what Jesus did, too.  When He relinquished heaven’s glory and came to earth, He burned His boats.  Then launched His revolution— fully aware that those who would follow after Him would have to burn their boats, too. 

And that’s why, when Jesus started drawing sell-out crowds, He wasn’t at all thrilled about that.  Isn’t that something?  Today’s church pulls every trick in the book to build a crowd, yet Jesus was constantly trying to shrink His. 

For example:

“When evening came, many who were demon–possessed were brought to [Jesus], & He drove out the spirits…& healed all the sick.”[1]

Which prompted even MORE people.  In fact, Mark says that by evening “the whole town [had] gathered.”[2]  Cuz Jesus’ wonder-working power was a convincing proof that He WAS Who He claimed to be.

The problem is, Jesus didn’t come to put on a good show, He came to lead a revolution!  So He took one look at this swelling crowd and realized:

These people wanted healed, but not necessarily changed. 

They wanted entertained, but not saved. 
They wanted in on a happenin’ new revolution, but only for the cool factor of it all.  They had no idea Jesus’ revolution would eventually lead to a cross. 

That’s why: “when Jesus saw the crowd…He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.”[3]  Some say Jesus did that cuz He was tired.  Or worried the crowd might get out of hand and prematurely force His hand. 

I think He did it as a test of commitment.  Who among these thousands would actually climb into their boats & follow Him?  Please note that word, “follow.”  And mark it well, cuz Christianity, in its purest form, is all about “following Jesus.” 

 “Come, follow Me”[4] was Jesus’ first command when He addressed His would-be disciples.  As He walked the shores of Galilee and through each village marketplace— having made His selections, Jesus said to each potential apprentice, “Come, follow Me.”

And that’s still His clarion call. 

See, a Christian is not measured by how much he reads his Bible or how often she goes to church or even how much money he gives.  Sure, a Christian does DO those things.  But who a Christian IS has NOTHING to do with performance…and EVERYTHING to do with a Person.

When you boil Christianity down to its absolute base, all that remains is Jesus.  So to be a “Christian” is really nothing more {or less} than living like Jesus lived, thinking as Jesus thought and doing what Jesus did. 

God Put You On This Planet To Make You Like Jesus.  And the only way you can become transformed into His likeness…and systematically shaped into a mirror image of Jesus— is by FOLLOWING Jesus. 

True Christian Discipleship is all about having a relationship with Jesus.  It’s not about rules and regulations and religious observances {stuff we’ll review in detail next time}— it’s a relationship with Someone Who perfectly loves us and Who compassionately cares about us and Who willingly died for us— a Person so incomparable that we who wear His name willingly “follow” in His shadow. 

And even more, we make it our goal [& our most noble ambition] to match Jesus— footprint for footprint for footprint. 

We ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”  then we do it!

We follow In His Footsteps.  We follow.  We follow…Jesus. 

And that’s not only who a Christian is; that’s what a Christian does.  We…“follow.”  A Christian is someone who follows…Jesus. 

 

So…back to our story.  Jesus has thrown down the gauntlet: 

Anybody willing to climb into their boat and follow? 

Anybody willing to leave behind family, friends…even career? 

Anybody willing to suffer ridicule for My sake?

                ANYBODY?

Mark tells us that a few WERE climbing aboard— though most weren’t quite sure what to do.  Matthew mentions two of ‘em.  Luke adds a third.  But all three, though intrigued by Jesus, weren’t quite ready to FOLLOW Jesus.

 


[1] Matthew 8:16

[2] Mark 1:33

[3] Matthew 8:18

[4] Matthew 4:19

This is an exerpt from Plus....Nothing!

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