No time more so than when being challenged to attempt something that both exhilarates and horrifies you!
The scene was an unfinished construction site just outside of Mountain View elementary school from which we had just graduated. Now elite students at Fairmont Junior High, we were pretty sure we could handle just about anything.
Whatever had been planned for the site had been abandoned. Left behind were really, really big mounds–mountains?–of dirt. Guys many years our senior had ridden trails up and down these hills and created a kind of motocross course for bicycles–both the pedaled and occasional motorized types.
Now it was our turn. I sat astride a shiny new hunk of green metal–my fast and furious stingray bicycle fully equipped with handlebar breaks and glossy banana seat. All around me were my buddies determined to find out if I had the guts to hit the hills. Then came the moment when my crazy, daredevil friend who seemed unafraid of anything spoke those dreaded words through an evil grin: I dare ya!
What red-blooded boy could resist?
So I went for it. The results were bruising and humiliating–the stuff of viral videos! But through the bloodied nose and bruised ego at least I had one prize to show for it: I had accepted the dare.
In His usual mold-shattering style, Jesus sometimes faced down both followers and opponents with just such a dare:
“Whoever has ears, let him hear!”
This was no small talk or verbal space holder for Jesus. It was His way of saying–
“I challenge you to honestly think through and act on the real and radical implications of what I just said to you.”
Look at the times He lays down the challenge to His listeners:
- Matthew 11:15: In response to the death of His friend and cousin, John, Jesus declares His Kingdom is like a subterranean force that is always moving under our feet and only those with the courage to believe in a different kind of world would get it. And Jesus said:
Go ahead, grab a handful of heaven, hang on and enjoy the ride–I dare ya!
- Matthew 13:9: Jesus tells the story where the seed (the Word–Him) fell on lots of people with very different heart conditions (soils) but produced eternal fruit only in the souls openly receptive to a new way of thinking. And Jesus said:
Go ahead, allow me to make God-stuff from your ordinary life–I dare ya!
- Matthew 13:43: An an odd parable in which Jesus talks about weeds being mixed into a field of grain and the farmer’s decision to allow good and bad to grow together until the whole story is told. And Jesus said:
Go ahead, live life as it really should be in the middle of life as it really is–I dare ya!
- Mark 7:16: In a particularly confrontational moment, Jesus unleashes vehement opposition to the way religious leaders are by-passing the Word and confining God to their pet traditions and teachings. And Jesus said:
Go ahead, let God out of your box and loose in your business–I dare ya!
- Luke 14:35: Jesus soberly warns those who follow Him not to take it lightly, but to realize (count the cost) that when you go after all He is and does, you do so with empty hands. And Jesus said:
Go ahead, risk letting me make you more than you can make of yourself–I dare ya!
Jesus threw down the gauntlet and challenged people to stop settling for a dispassionate life of short-term significance and irrelevant impact.
He pushed people right up to the edge of a risky life where they would leave a mark and make a difference. Then he dared them to jump.
So face your day as it is and make something radically eternal with the moments you are given.
I dare ya!
I am indebted to a favorite iconoclast, Robert Farrar Capon, for prompting these thoughts.