For so many, mostly those who desire to be in a ‘safe place,’ have lost the desire to be captivated, and to captivate. We have lost the desire to be a people, a place, where we live in the captivating love of Christ. You see, Jesus was not ‘the rock star’ of his age, but what he was, and what he offered, captivated the lives, hearts, and movement of the people around him. His grace, his love, his forgiveness, his wanting, his desire to reach the marginalized, the forgotten, the ignored, changed hearts, and captivated people.
This is what we’re called to do, captivate others with our love for them. We’re called to go beyond ourselves, we’re called to move into our City, as Avatars of Christ, and captivate people with love, grace, wanting, and forgiveness, and get messy. If we’re not risking our lives, risking being hurt, we risk nothing, and we’ll never captivate others.
We’ll never captivate people with religion, we’ll never captivate people with church – we’ll only captivate others when we move into the City, and live a life where we Love, where we share Grace, where we Forgive, and where we Want. When we understand this, we understand living a dangerous life, and as I’ve said before, this can be messy.
Captivating Love is Messy: In Matthews recording of the life, and ministry, of Jesus, he shares Jesus teaching, “If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.”
That kind of love, the love that says all are lovable, is a captivating love. Keep this in mind, it’s not that Jesus loved the unlovable, it’s simply that for Jesus no one was unlovable. This could simply be my point of view, but it’s somewhat useless to say, “Jesus Loves You” if we are unable to say, “I Love You.” Many people need to know the love of Christ, but they need to see that love in us, for them. If we only help others because Jesus loves them, the love of Christ never transformed our heart. Our actions should be based on the transforming love that changed our life, to love others. Others need to believe, we desire to help them because we love them, not because we were told to help them. Helping others because we were told to help, is simply giving into the requirements of religion. Helping others because our hearts have been changed, means we have been transformed by Christ.
Captivating Grace is Messy: Let us look again at Matthew’s narrative, Jesus says, “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”When we express the free, unmerited, unforced rhythms of grace, we share a grace that can be very messy, but it’s a grace that captivates. Grace teaches us to dance in the City around us, it teaches us to walk alongside each other; it teaches us to live life freely, and lightly. People were captivated by Jesus’ ability to share that grace. When we’re able to express the favor of the Divine, freely, and without the religion that demands they follow our lead, we express the freedom of the Holy Spirit moving in our lives, and in the lives of others. This can be messy, because we’ve been tricked into believing faith needed to follow a certain order, grace needed to follow a certain order, and in religion they do. But in the grace of Christ, the grace he shared, order is not important, grace is.
Captivating Forgiveness is Messy: Here we are, back in Matthew’s narrative, where Jesus says, “You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”
When Jesus was confronted by the masses concerning a woman committing adultery, he expressed one of the greatest gifts we could ever receive – he expressed forgiveness. Jesus never condemned her, he simply expressed his forgiveness. One of the hardest things we need to grasp, is that we need to pull out the plank from our eyes, before we demand others take the speck out of theirs. If we are unable to forgive others for their wrongs, how can we ever expect the Divine to forgive us ours? This gets very messy.
Captivating Wanting is Messy: When you want others, when we express the desire of want, we welcome people into our lives, and into our community. Look around your City, how many people need to feel wanted? Many people in our Cities have a strong desire to be wanted, to feel the embrace of those willing to welcome them into their lives, without qualifications, without demands placed upon them, without being forced to walk a path we desire them to walk. Wanting means we embrace others, we lift them up, we help them see the power of the Divine in their lives, we help them become the person the Divine desires them to be, and not what we demand they become. To quote the great theologians, Cheap Trick, “I want you to want me. I need you to need me. I’d love you to love me.”
It’s only when we can say, ‘I want to want others. I need to need others. I love to love others” that we live our faith in a dangerous way. When we live in the comfort of what we think we know, we lose the ability to be dangerous; we are unable to captivate others with the irresistible appeal of the love of Christ.