The Expendables


or Calling Security


Years ago, I remember a preacher listing for his audience all the sins that will make you prematurely old. I figured the second part of his sermon to us would be a list of all the benefits of Christian living that keep you young. Well, they are obvious. Don’t tick the boxes in list one. Very wisely, that’s not what he gave us. He listed all the things the Lord expects of us, things that also make us prematurely old. His point was, grow old doing good, not evil.

Tying this to Jordan’s Bread and Wine theology, we understand that bread is made to be broken. Proud young men and women (as we were when I heard that sermon on growing old) won’t stay that way. They will be broken. But one life offered can feed five thousand.

The media sells us a lifestyle of security. This is not biblical prudence. It is paranoia, a worldview without faith, where God and His people cannot be counted on to come to the rescue. The Bible is full of leaders and institutions who pulled back from being broken. God has no pleasure in them. It is the Tabernacle of Lamech, the Temple of the Herods, a hoarded bread that God fills with worms. Bread is not eternal. It is expendable.

Worldly dreams will be shattered. Christ calls us beyond that, to an expectation that we will be broken and poured out. In fact, He calls us to look for opportunities to become prematurely old, to lay down our lives for the next generation. We understand this of parenting. Do we understand this of discipling others?

I’m not talking about pastor’s burnout. Paul knew how to disciple and delegate. Discipleship was a buffer against burnout. For sure, he had his failures, and he excommunicated them to bring about repentance. I’m talking about being a human shield, as Jesus was, standing between the curse and the cursed.

Adam’s sin, as a proud young man with faculties even our most gifted youths can only dream about, was believing that he wasn’t expendable. The single Law called him to be broken under it when tested. He seized a false security instead of becoming security. He was to be a priestly guard, a human firmament, a watchman, cut by the Word to create a safe place, a Holy Place. His failure made us into slaves. As Doug Jones observes, the next question for everyone who is redeemed, in every possible station of life known to human beings, is “Whose freedom are you?

Calculated risks are the order of the day. As with the Christian life, we don’t set out to build a tower without adequate preparation and prudence. In parenting, in discipleship, we plant with an expectation, not a guarantee, of an increase. My point is that life in the flesh is expendable. Whatever we choose to spend it on, it will be spent. That is its very nature. It was never supposed to last, not even in Eden. The natural would become spiritual. But the path to glory, to security for others (those in the house) and spiritual offspring (bringing in those outside the house), is expensive.

As a perceptive pastor once said, “If you want to be a highway into the kingdom for other people, don’t be surprised when you get walked on.” And as my grandfather said, “The trials of life will make you bitter or better.” Either way, you are food.

“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls;
though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.”

2 Cor 12:15

The world sells us on youth and security, the glory of fresh bread somehow kept in suspended animation. But the world doesn’t even believe the lie, not in the end, when the eulogies are read. When there is no reason to lie any more, even the world recognizes lives spent in such an honorable way.

“Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days.”
Ecclesiastes 11:1

Amongst all the recent calls to be “radical,” security is actually good. That question, “Whose freedom are you?” helps us to discern between the guilt trips and the true calls to service. God doesn’t call us all to live on the edge. There’s nothing wrong with living a life of quiet faithfulness and nurturing of others. We all have different gifts. Sometimes it takes more courage and strength to be non-radical. [1] Whether it’s being radical, or just teaching your kids the Bible and being faithful at work, at home and at church, the goal is a legacy in history for God.

[1] See A Tale of Two Brothers.

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