Wild At Heart

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Written by: John Eldredge

There’s something about Wild At Heart that I cannot really put my finger on. Maybe later but certainly not now. And yes, let me start with my little confession. My first reaction towards this book was purely negative (no one knew until now). Wild At Heart? You seriously want your readers to be WILD AT HEART? Like learn how to win a street brawl or pick locks or try to grab a cobra by its tail? Mmm! You know, I thought I was going to be introduced to some pretty wild and dangerous tricks. The early chapters of the book make you think John is one of those die-hard supporters of machoism simply because the theme of aggressive manliness seems to spread across those pages but…there’s a reason we are told not to be quick to judge the content of things by how they appear because we may just be wrong. Yes, I judged the book wrongly and I’m so glad I didn’t walk away from it but read to the very end. John Eldredge’s Wild At Heart meets one of the most important demands of reality. It’s a book written to remind men of who they really are and who they are supposed to be. Grab a copy of this book for yourself, read it and you’ll soon realize that few men live because most of us (the men) are content with the kind of lives we live under the false image of our masculinity. This book isn’t just for males but for females as well so ladies please don’t walk away from here yet. Please sit back, relax and enjoy the ride even as I go ahead to share just three interesting thoughts with you.

 

Danger is our middle name

Do you realize how boys and men are naturally drawn like magnets to adventure? Forbidden places and daring acts tickle us so easily. They just poke our souls and whet our appetites into exploring and finding out ‘what the heaven’ makes them risky. We don’t like it when we are told not to ‘go there’ or ‘try this at home’. The moment you voice out those statements, you rather give us the green light to do the opposite. We want to know why we can’t cross certain lines in life. It’s part of our nature. Explain the likely consequence(s) with all your might, once we haven’t experienced it for ourselves, there’s a greater probability of failing to convince us—well, most of us (a few will back off and that’s not bad at all). Danger is more like our middle name and the character trait that comes with it forms a core part of who we are. That’s why it’s very important that a man does not lose this part of himself; his innate desire to be adventurous in life. I’m not saying get rowdy and be all over the place or something of that sort in order to be seen as a real man. What I’m trying to say is we must be very careful with how we handle the longings of the wild heart of a man. Don’t quench the fire within the bosom of a boy or man that moves him to seek adventure. Take that away from him and that boy/man loses his masculinity. Respect the fact that men are designed to be adventurous for a particular purpose and that, it is in that trip they get to discover what that purpose really is. One man’s adventure may be different from another man’s adventure. The underlying factor is the boldness that comes with moving from your comfort zone to a conflict zone to secure new grounds in life. Allow the adventurous spirit to bubble within you, dear men. Be encouraged. Be motivated to toughen yourself up by exploring other areas in your life but act wisely. Get a dependable mentor to guide you on this path, since nothing useful comes out of senseless undertakings.

Niceness isn’t all there is to being a man

Let me address the Christian brothers shortly. I think most of us in imitating the lifestyle of Christ are quick to picture Jesus as the meek and mild lamb. That’s not wrong at all. The Bible does refer to Him as the Lamb of God and lambs as we know are very gentle and love to stay away from trouble. Do you read in your bibles that this same Jesus is also known as the Lion of Judah? Please read Revelations if you think I’m making this up. Lions are fierce creatures ever ready to fight to protect the pride from hungry predators. Are you getting the picture now? Jesus wasn’t just an incarnation of Mercy, He’s like Braveheart who would step right into the middle of a situation and fight until everything is restored back to normal. How did he refer to the Pharisees whenever he wanted to expose their clandestine activities? Brood of vipers and all…meehn, that doesn’t look ‘gentlemanly’ at all. When His Father’s house was turned into a shopping mall, what did he do? He went straight to the Temple and threw out those who were buying and selling. Oh and for the record, Mr. Nice Jesus wasn’t really soft about the whole show. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants, spilling coins left ‘n’ right. Gentle Jesus put together a whip out of strips and leather… Wait! Wait! Wait! Did He really make whip of cords? For what? Cheerleading performance? I leave you to reach your verdict for that. My mini-mission here is to remind you of the wild One whose image we bear. The God you and I serve (that is if you are a Christian like me) is a God of peace alright. Nevertheless, He is a Warrior; Yahweh is His name (refer to Exodus 15:3). Don’t say you are a man just because you are a gentleman or because you are exceedingly and abundantly nice to everyone you meet. If all there is to our identity is ‘niceness’, then I assure you we are ‘castrated’ men. Real men are aware of what’s going on in the world and there’s a part of them that longs to enter a battle and make things right. We must be careful not to distort the image God has bestowed upon us. He is a LAMB and a LION! Once again, I’m not advocating machoism over here; I just want to remind us of how the total nature of our masculinity looks like and how we’ve for so long focused on only one side of our make-up. We must embrace the other side of us too; the other side that desires to fight and rescue something precious to us.

The Traitor within the Castle

Olympus has fallen is an American thriller movie I will recommend for anyone to watch on any day. So many lessons to learn from that movie bruh! It portrays how a group of terrorists kidnaps the President of the United States and seizes The White House. A particular scene caught my attention the most and that is HOW The White House was overpowered. At first, I felt the mission was accomplished too easily considering the fact that The White House is no child’s play. It’s an impregnable fortress fortified with one of the world’s most special elite forces (Speaking as though I toured there last night). But after I watched that scene again, I realized the destruction of the White House wasn’t successful because the external forces mounted a well-calculated air and ground assault; the mission was a piece of cake because there was the presence of a FIFTH COLUMN. A what? Yes, FIFTH COLUMN! It’s a group of people within a larger group who form strong alliances with external forces to commit treasonous acts against one’s own leader or city or nation. It’s the highest form of betrayal of trust and confidence; a violation of allegiance to one’s sect; a breach of faith. All you have to do is gather few insiders to execute a powerful espionage within defense lines and then witness the fall of a great person, company, city or nation right before your very own eyes. Dear men, there’s a traitor within our castle too and we cannot allow it to have its way in our fortress—especially when we are driven by wild hearts. This traitor is no other thing than our flesh. What a troublesome and treacherous thing we have in our midst! It’s the impostor out there wandering the corridors day and night planning the perfect ambush for us. Every boy and man is at constant war with his flesh every day. If it’s not what he sees, then it’s what he hears. If it’s not what he hears, then perhaps what he smells, feels, or tastes. Men, we know what we war against everyday so I wouldn’t go deep into that. That’ll be another blogpost on its own (Find me a title so I start working on it ASAP!). How do we go up against an enemy who knows how to harm us badly by exploiting our weaknesses? Go find out and share with me if you can in the comments section.

Many of us want to battle and repossess our true masculine strength but how many of us are ready to bleed for it? We hesitate a lot. We prefer to stay hidden under our shells by accepting what we’ve become. That sounds like the description of a loser to me. If there’s anything I’ve come to learn in this life, it is that it’s always better to try and even fail than to fail to try. After all, ‘failures are fingerposts on the road to achievement’ as C.S Lewis puts it. We must allow our masculinity to send us on trips far away from our comfort zones. Get out. Wade through the waters. Go discover yourself and return only when you’ve found YOU. We must let the whole world feel the weight of WHO WE ARE on our arrival. We must prepare ourselves for this—to join the few real men that live on this earth.

Before I end, allow me to share some of the poignant quotes I came across in this book…

“The deepest search in life, it seemed to me, the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man’s search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, not merely the father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united.” –Tom Wolfe

“It is so essential to hear from God about your true name, because in that name is the mission of your life.” — John E.

“The Big Lie in the church today is that you are nothing more than “a sinner saved by grace.” You are a lot more than that. You are a new creation in Christ. The New Testament calls you a saint, a holy one, a son of God. In the core of your being you are a good man. Yes, there is a war within us, but it is a civil war. The battle is not between us and God; no, there is a traitor within who wars against our true heart fighting alongside the Spirit of God in us…” — John E.

 “Our strength is wild and fierce, and we are more than unsettled by what may happen if we let it arrive. One thing we know: Nothing will ever be the same. One client said to me, “I’m afraid I’ll do something bad if I let all this show up.” No, the opposite is true. You’ll do something bad if you don’t. Remember—a man’s addictions are the result of his refusing his strength.” –John E.

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. “He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,” is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. The paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice. He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to live, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.” –G.K Chesterton

 

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The ‘Almost’ Christian

22794After reading a sermon by the Anglican divine and theologian named John Wesley, I could feel blood dripping out of the very core of my heart. Flaming arrows of truth piercing my conscience right from start to end, it was impossible to duck. The sermon titled ‘The Almost Christian’ was preached at St. Mary’s Oxford, on July 25, 1741. A sermon so old one can literally smell the scent of ‘so long ago’. A 273 year old documented preaching that carries with it the ability to question the 21st century man who claims to be a Christian. This is a modern day adaptation of the original sermon by John Wesley. [I will make references to him from time to time]

John Wesley starts by saying: “AND many there are who go thus far: ever since the Christian religion was in the world, there have been many in every age and nation who were almost persuaded to be Christians. But seeing it avails nothing before God to go only thus far, it highly imports us to consider, first. What is implied in being almost, Secondly. What in being altogether, a Christian.”

The first glance at the title makes you wonder if there is any such thing as an ‘almost’ Christian in the Bible. What do you mean by almost? What makes them almost and not completely or altogether, a Christian? Is there any standard rule for such a categorization? The Bible does not expressly distinguish the two by virtue of name. However, the concept behind the difference can be clearly deduced from a careful study of the Holy Scripturesand this is where I humbly ask to pay rapt attention to the writings that are about to follow.

How does an almost Christian differ from a complete Christian?

Let me start by saying that a complete Christian is NOT a perfect disciple of Christ. No human being is perfect. Only God is. He does not get better or improve as time elapses. To attempt any of these is to either imply He goes from better to worse or vice-versa for which we know isn’t consistent with His personality. Just as He was, He still is and will forever be. It’s a different story when it comes to human beings. The concept of growth and development is inevitable in our lives and that makes us imperfect.

What then does the almost Christian look like?

The almost Christian is well abreast with moral and ethical codes. He makes strenuous efforts to keep up with the code of morality. He does not steal. He does not cheat his neighbor. He considers drunkenness, gluttony, greed, gambling and anything that appears evil as immoral. To envision any of these vices alone is a heinous crime to him, much more committing them. This person makes every effort not to grow weary in doing good. In living his life, he may consistently quote the Golden Rule, “Do to others what you want them to do to you”.

The almost Christian is very honest in his dealings with himself as well as others around him. His integrity matters to him a lot. He is very truthful to them that deserve it. He does his best to tell the truth always despite the possibility of painful consequences. He avoids lies (unless lied to) and oath breaking. Slandering his neighbor is total repugnance in his sight for it is a disgrace to human kind. No way does he give advantage to those who would harm him. ‘Be forthright with those who are forthright with you’ is his motto.

Another implication of being an almost Christian is the form of godliness, which I like to call the Christian suit. Let the church open its doors on a Sunday morning, he is the first to make way to his seat [preference is given to the seats directly behind the elders of the church]. He prefers to pray in the tongues of men and probably angels knowing very well that “He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself”. How fluent he is when he decides to pray in a known language; “Oh Omnipotent, Omnipresent King of Kings, of whom is referred to as Tetragrammaton, I come before your Holy throne…” You cannot help but to see him nod and shout “Amen!” occasionally as the pastor preaches what he calls a “powerful” word. He is more often than not, a member of at least two departmental wings. Meet him after church and ask how he is doing; he will definitely tell you how ‘blessed’ he is.

He is very religious in his speech. He abhors foolish talking and jesting, which are inconvenient to him and (probably) to those around him. Make a little mistake to be careless in your speech or actions and you will be called CARNAL! He is very familiar with the scriptures and has in-depth mental knowledge to defend the doctrines in the Bible.

He doesn’t joke with his dawn prayers. He spends at least thirty minutes to have his quiet time before starting his day. If he is the master of the house, Family prayer is never optional. Every forehead in the family surely tastes the anointing oil before the grace is shared [You have to be SPIRITUAL!]

He is very hospitable. Visit him at home and you will be offered a drink and something to eat. You are rest assured to leave for your home with hefty gifts. His generosity is however not limited to the home alone. He is ever ready and willing to lend help and assistance to the poor when he can, when it is needed. How considerate and polite he is by treating needy people decently. He has his limits though as he does not give room for anyone to use him as a doormat.

“Uhuh! This is the exact description of a true Christian. Are you trying to say you can do all these and still be an ‘almost’ Christian? Can you really go this far and still be far from being an altogether Christian?” These are the words of John Wesley to a similar question and I quote:

I did go thus far for many years, as many of this place can testify; using diligence to eschew all evil, and to have a conscience void of offence; redeeming the time; buying up every opportunity of doing all good to all men; constantly and carefully using all the public and all the private means of grace; endeavouring after a steady seriousness of behaviour, at all times, and in all places; and, God is my record, before whom I stand, doing all this in sincerity; having a real design to serve God; a hearty desire to do his will in all things; to please him who had called me to “fight the good fight,” and to “lay hold of eternal life. Yet my own conscience beareth me witness in the Holy Ghost, that all this time I was but almost a Christian.

This he realized after spending 13 years in ministry living a religious life and preaching religious sermons. 13 years yet he was but almost a Christian!

What then does it mean to be an altogether/complete Christian?

The altogether Christian does everything he does ultimately because of the love of God shared abroad in his heart. He looks to the heavens every single day and knows deep within his spirit (not mere intellectual knowledge) that there is none like Jehovah. His sincerest desire to please God’s heart is strongly influenced from within unto the outside. He knows that nothing in this world can satisfy his hunger but Jesus. Whatever he does, he does it to the glory of God alone. He does not in any way wish to claim praise for himself. He may be tempted once or twice but he reminds himself of the fact that, ‘It’s all about You Jesus’.

His love for his neighbor is driven solely by the love of God flooding his heart. He does not only show love to those who reciprocate it, he also shows love to his enemies (knowing that they are generally the same people) not because it is commanded, his obedience IS the expression of his love for God. He is patient and endures a lot, not keeping any record of wrongs against him. He lets his reputation suffer for the sake of the gospel. He will let himself decrease if Christ has to increase.

He is a godly person with a different concept of what true godliness is. He knows godliness positions man to be like God. He knows godliness sets man apart for his spiritual act of worship. He is very certain about the fact that true godliness never denies the power of Jesus. He knows that to have a form of godliness devoid of spiritual power is like a body without the spirit. It decays gradually filling the heavens with a stench of deception. Such form looks good on the outside but is spiritually barren on the inside. Perfect example is the devil; clothed like the angel of light but…well, you know what lies beneath!

I read an article one time and this is what the writer had to say concerning almost Christians:

You see, they are ethical, moral, and religious people as long as being ethical, moral, and religious serves them well. They like to be recognized as good citizens, sitting in places of leadership, admired by their fellow citizens, making the necessary connections to further their business, their good name, or their political ambitions. They love the respect and honor showered on them for being such outstanding people. They love being offered the seat of honor at the banquet. They love seeing their name and picture in the newspaper. They love their positions of leadership in the church because of the respect, the power, and the control that comes with such positions.

The almost Christian is very likely to become less ethical, less moral and less religious as long as these do not serve their purposes in his life any longer. It is not so with the complete Christian. The two may be superficially similar but they are so different fundamentally. The almost Christian is driven by love for ‘self’ while the altogether/complete Christian is driven by love for Christ.

Perhaps, you have read this post and you are thinking, “Well, nothing in there points to me as being an almost Christian. I clearly identify with the altogether ones. I’m all set!” That’s great! Keep it up and more grace, my brother/sister in the Lord! A piece of advice and I quote from 1 Corinthians 10:12 MSG version, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”

The Lord Himself speak to us all in His own ways that we may return to true discipleship and become the complete Christian He expects us to be. Far be it from us that we be counted among the lot who will say ‘Lord, Lord’ and miss out on heaven.