Friday, June 13, 2014
Repenting of Ace Ventura
Maybe you’ve shown someone a painting or poem you loved, played for them a song that deeply moved you, or told someone of an enchanting discovery only to have them respond with a disinterested, “Um, that’s nice.” How did you feel in that moment? Were you bothered? Did you think, “Hmm . . . Maybe a good whop! right about now would be just the thing because you should be more interested in this than you are.”
Have you ever wanted to beat someone up for Jesus? I have. That might be related, don’t you think? And it might be a problem.
There have been times when I have presented the incredible truth of the gospel to someone and have them look as dull when I was done as they did when I began. I don’t mean only the get-‘em-in-the-door, turn-or-burn gospel, I mean the stunning good news about what God has done for us in Christ gospel, the great and real life He gives us gospel, and the how well related to God we are in Christ gospel. That one. And when I arrive at a good place to stop, either they look like it’s naptime or like it’s all unimportant. “Well, I’m glad that works for you,” they say.
And what fills my imagination is from one of those silly Pet Detective movies. Remember those? There were a couple of them. Suddenly, I am Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey), and with an exaggerated nod and toothy grin, I hear myself say, “Really. R-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-a-l-l-y . . .”
And in my imagination – Whop! They had it coming, right? And then I do that silly, jerky, walk-away thing that Ace Ventura did, grinning big as ever. “Turn me down? Ha! Loo-hoo-hoo-ser!”
It’s about then that I come to my senses and repent of Ace Ventura.
Sometimes my flesh gets way too involved in the mystery of closing the gospel deal, or of changing someone else. I know that I didn’t convince myself about the gospel, nor am I particularly skilled at changing myself, so when I begin practicing upon others (Dr. Ralph), you would think that I would be quickly alarmed. Sadly, no. Sometimes it takes a while.
What’s happened is that I have lost the thrill and confidence of God-in-charge, God-at-work, and God-never-failing. Awe of Him has been over-run by frustration with this world, and sometimes that happens all too easily. I watch a big batch of bad news, read the opinion section of the newspaper, or scan a blog, and fleshly angst becomes my chief navigator. Joy in God’s ability has been hijacked by a fleshly desire to make life work, mine and yours – Reeeally – and the soon-coming end of that is disappointment and exhaustion. It must be. Either I get all worked up—We’ve got to DO something!—or I get all depressed and give up. It’s one or the other.
Right around then, the Holy Spirit reminds me that I am an ambassador of God, not a general in the army. I’m a vessel and messenger for God, not a detective bent on exposing the bad things of this world so I can change them. He reminds me because He is looking to revive and refresh me so I can live and work in the power of God, not in the faux power of the flesh. It doesn’t work for me, nor does it for you. And that’s a good thing to know, although it probably won’t feel that way until we arrive at rest: “What have I been trying to do that God is not?” That’s a good arrival.
Maybe you need to repent of Ace Ventura, too. Besides, I can’t imagine him leading anyone to Jesus anyway. Can you?
(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Repenting of Ace Ventura,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/Q_cja0fg5X4, or simply scroll down this page.)