Dear Friend, The Counselor Milton Erickson tells the story of his son, Lance, coming into his office one day and sighing, “Will I always be a string bean maypole?” Erickson told him, “Your destiny as a teenager is to be a string bean maypole. But you can look forward to the day when you walk into my office, hand me your jacket, and say, “Get lost , Dad.” “One day my son walked into my office, a grin on his face, handed me his jacket, and said, ‘Get lost, Dad.’” Erickson put on his son’s jacket; the sleeves were too long and the shoulders were too wide. What is life about? It’s about growth. And growth demands new ideas, encouragement, challenges, nudges and gentle shoves. This is what “The Heart of the Fighter” is all about; a call to life that is richer and more courageous. Sometimes I struggle with this call. It can make me uneasy. It challenges my comfortable routines. It challenges me to walk in a new way. Yet all of this is necessary to growth. I either respond courageously or I settle back, perhaps still complaining of a lack-luster existence, while killing the very things that could make it different. But that’s not how I want to live. I’ve chosen to wrestle with the call, to see progress made, to rejoice in each new victory. It has taken many of the
shadows out of my days. It has brought new value to moment by moment living. You see, I have to keep responding to the call to grow and live. John F. Kennedy had met with experts that had laid out all the options for going to the moon. It was complicated. The risks were great. After awhile he left the room. In a few minutes he sent back the message, “Let’s go for it.” Don’t you love the excitement that surrounds the words, “Let’s go for it”! It calls forth new energies, new youthfulness. Do you have a prize you’re going for? Or does it seem to you that all your prizes have been won? Christ expressed the challenge this way: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” When you think about it, this is pretty foreign to the way most people treat each other. Remember how it was in the passage in Matthew 25? The people on the left, the ones who thought they were trying to do right, were horrified as they asked, “When did we see our Lord in need of food or clothing or a place to live? We would surely have helped Christ.” But when “the least of these” came along, they hadn’t even noticed. Against this, Christ urges a new kind of behavior that starts not with a “god”, like the pagans did, but with “the least” ; and loves them in a natural, unselfconscious way. In fact, when the Lord brought their good behavior to their attention, they hadn’t even noticed; they, too, asked, “Lord when did we see you…….?” They treated people the way they did because it had became the natural thing to do. Not for a personal reward. Not even as a means for “evangelizing”.
You don’t think it’s still daring to go out and treat people like that? Think now…no thought of reward….no intent to use your good deeds to change them….I assure you, it’s still daring for a person to live that way! (It’s even more daring for a whole church or community to try to live that way.) Nobody says it will be easy. You’ll fail a lot. You’ll be misunderstood and criticized by people you thought would know better. But you’ll get in touch with people’s needs, and your own needs, in a way you’ve never known before. If you dare to live like this, here are the stages you’ll likely go through. “There’ll be the first clumsy, embarrassed attempts. Then will come the more difficult times as you rid yourself of the pressures of guilt or “duty.” And then will come the most painful times of all, when you learn to tell the difference between pity, (which is being glad you’re not in the other person’s shoes) and true compassion, (which is being able to “feel with, “ to empathize, to understand how life looks from where the other person stands.) There are no shortcuts to loving another person like this, but eventually you’ll be able to. Then you’ll know how it feels to enter the joy that is prepared for those who can love without being self-conscious about it. I’ve decided to take the dare to fight for people. People are the only thing worth living dangerously for. And now, I dare you….. I even double dog dare you. Your Friend, Landon Saunders
Key Biblical Concepts 1. What we do toward the “least” reveals much about our hearts and our relationship to God (Matthew 25:40-45). 2. The “righteous” act out of who they are rather than duty (Matthew 25:37). A beautiful lack of self-consciousness accompanies their work. 3. It is right to do good even if nothing happens (Luke 6:35). Also reflect on the work of Jesus. Study Luke 10:17-20. 4. “Compassion” beautifully describes the heart of the Christian ( Matt. 25:31-46; Luke 10:29-37; Matthew 9:35-38) 5. The following biblical passages provide a background for the way a person is meant to be: natural, compassionate, spontaneous, and selfless. a. Matthew 25:28-46. This is the basic text for the tape. What is the one thing Jesus says will matter in judgment? b. Luke 7:11-19. “Where are the nine?” Did Jesus waste His time with ungrateful people? c. Matthew 12:33-37; 7:17-27. The results of your life are determined by the character of your heart (also James 3:1-8). d. Matthew 10:40-42. God’s pleasure over the simplest sincere acts of compassion (Matthew 7:12)