When I was young, Evil Knievel was one of my heroes. How could he not be every pre-teen boy’s idol? First of all this guy rode motorcycles for a living. I mean how cool is that?!? He didn’t just ride motorcycles though – he actually jumped them up ramps and flew over buses and small buildings with a single bound. I admit, I just gave him some of Superman’s description, but I’m certain that Superman got his mojo from Evil Knievel. The proof of Evil Knievel’s super-ness comes from those that try to emulate him. There wasn’t a kid on my block that didn’t have aspirations of taking their Schwinn bicycle over a self-made ramp and grabbing some air. I was determined to be the best daredevil rockstar bike-jumping superman the world had ever experienced. Nobody else in the world dared to be like Evil Knievel and I was certain nobody else in the world would dare be like me.
What would posses a guy to ride a perfectly good motorcycle up a ramp and fly over buses and cars? Applause and admiration might be answer. To even ask the question is to admit that you don’t get the mind of a kid who wants to be “that guy”.
I’m quite a bit older now and my Schwinn is more along the lines of a beach comber rather than the ramp-jumping style. As I think back about the awe that a guy like Evil Knieval struck in me and my friends, I realize that perhaps I should have paid attention to what described this guy. He was considered a daredevil. I’m a pastor. Today, I don’t see much need for daring the devil to do anything as I’m sure he’s busily scheming to trip Christians up at any chance he can get. But back in the day, daredevils captured the imaginations of young boys. Heck, I should have realized that idolizing a guy named “Evil” was a bad idea in the first place.
Earlier this week, I was asked to preach at our local presbytery meeting. For those of you that don’t know, a presbytery meeting is a meeting of the Pharisees of sorts. Presbytery is a bunch of pastors and elders who get together and talk about how best to be religious in being the church. Yeah, it’s like that. Our denomination is plagued with division where differing theologies has caused and is causing some churches and leaders to leave and form a new denomination. Our presbytery was set to discuss these difficult issues that evening.
The group is filled with incredibly bright people. When I was asked to preach, my first thought was, “wait a minute, most of the people that will be in the room don’t agree with my theology”. I know it sounds weird that a group of pastors meeting might not agree on theology, but it’s true. I was to preach on what the Lord’s Supper means for us and what we are called to be as the church. As I prepared and prayed, God laid it on my heart to I preach on being the ministry of reconciliation being Ambassadors of Reconciliation as found in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. As ministers, we are called to be preach reconciliation to God and how we are reconciled to God by Jesus going to the cross for us, in our stead. I never would have guessed that some would question Jesus’ atonement, Jesus going to the cross for sinners like you and me as the final sacrifice for our sins, but apparently some do.
As I preached that evening, I realized that it took some courage to stand in that pulpit and preach what God had laid on my heart. Knowing that some would not accept the message, I realized that God had a different plan. God wanted that message spoken, so my encouragement was to jump onboard and ride towards the ramp and let it fly. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to experience that the message was very well received.
God inspired Paul to encourage us when he wrote to the Romans that we too can be daredevils in proclaiming what we believe.
“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:8-9 – ESV)
“If you confess with your mouth, JESUS IS LORD…” What could be more daring than that? It takes tremendous courage to confess what is on your heart.
Today, we should be our own version of Evil Knievel. For every man that stands up and shares his faith, there is a little boy or girl watching and hoping one day they could be that courageous and daring. For every woman that stands in the pulpit and proclaims ‘Jesus as Lord’, there is a little boy or girl that is in awe of such conviction and passion.
There is no god like our God. We live in a culture finds little meaning in developing a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ for a variety of reasons. Be bold. Be courageous. With reckless abandon, share with a doubting world, ‘JESUS is in fact LORD’. You’ll be a hero to someone, perhaps a young boy or girl. Imagine how generations could be affected by such a proclamation because this little boy or girl experienced your courage.
To “confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” takes tremendous courage and apparently not everyone is up to the challenge.
Can you proclaim and believe that? I dare you.