“You have to do the dishes?”
A couple of my brothers, my dad, and I had just finished watching The Dark Knight, the second film of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I walked into the kitchen to find that Nathan (the eldest of my brothers) was beginning to load the dishwasher, and I asked him the question above.
“Yeah,” he replied in a dismal tone.
I stood there for a minute, and something weird happened.
I wanted to live like Jesus.
For many Christians, that’s not weird, but it was weird for me. I’ll admit that I’m kind of lazy. (I literally ran out of the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day when my sister asked me to help with something.) With that being said, it felt like someone else was moving my mouth when my response slipped out.
“Do you want me to do it?”
My brother grinned with relief. “Yeah!”
I smiled as he walked off and added, “You owe me!”
And then, I had an unexpected thought.
Jesus didn’t say that.
Jesus didn’t die for me and say, “All right, now you owe me. Live for me now. Pledge your allegiance to me. Love me back.” He just did it, and I don’t have to–I can’t–give anything in return.
After chewing on this thought for a while, I started to think about something else as I loaded the dishwasher.
Why did that thought pass through my mind immediately after I did what I was led to do? Why did God teach me something after I obeyed?
Hiccup, the lead character of How to Train Your Dragon, faced a situation similar to my own when he learned how to fight dragons with his classmates. In their first lesson, he and the other students nervously entered the arena, suddenly finding that their teacher was about to open a dragon’s cage without training them beforehand. They panicked, rushing to ask the trainer if he was going to give any advice before opening the gate. His response?
“I believe in learning on the job.”
What if this is an echo of what Christ would have said? What if God wants us to take the leap before he teaches?
Maybe we just need to obey, acting in humility and in faith, leaning on Jesus. Maybe sometimes we have to be in the right state of heart before we can learn anything at all.
Maybe that’s why Christ told the disciples to do something crazy in the book of Mark.
Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.” (Mark 6:7-8)
I would have been scared to death by this. I really like to be prepared, so it’s likely that I would have turned my back on Jesus right there. But the disciples didn’t.
They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (Mark 6:12-13)
And you know what was crazy? The king heard about what God was doing.
King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well-known. (Mark 6:14a)
In all of that, Jesus brought glory to himself, glory of the only deserving kind, and he did it through broken people–disciples who were unqualified, unprepared, and maybe just as scared as I would have been. He gave them the option to obey, and they did. They took the leap, and some awesome stuff happened.
We need to follow the disciples’ example. So often, we, too, just need to obey. We just need to go for it, relying on God to help us, whether or not we feel capable.
Many of us need to spread the word about Jesus, even if we feel unworthy to do it. We must serve someone who needs help, even if we’re tired. We ought to greet the visitors at church, even if we’re not very good at small talk. We should read the Word, even if we don’t feel like it. We need to watch, listen, and obey, because when we do–when we live like Christ, even amidst our fear and doubt–we glorify God in powerful ways.
I urge you, brother or sister–obey. Leap, and learn more than you ever could by standing on the edge.
P.S. I know…not very geeky. Let’s just say How to Train Your Dragon counts, eh?