I read somewhere that an African impala could jump ten feet high and could cover as much as thirty feet with each jump. Despite the power of this magnificent animal, it can be contained in a compound with a wall that is only three feet high. It seems that the impala will not jump when it can not see clearly where its feet will land. The fear of an uncertain landing keeps the impala behind a wall that it could easily clear.
This powerful animal reminds me of many Christians today, who are satisfied to live within the compound of their church and refuse to jump out onto the world stage, because they are not sure where they will land. Their fear of rejection or failure keeps them confined to the safety of their own church family. Rarely, do they initiate a discussion of faith outside the walls of the church. Instead, they choose to live a life of safety missing the excitement and thrill of engaging the world with the love of God.
The problem with this type of Christian behavior is that it does not measure up to the demand Jesus gave to His followers. He said to His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19, 20 NASB) I have always understood this to be the “Great Commission” not the “Great Suggestion”. Therefore, I believe that from the beginning the Church was meant to be a “going church” and not a “sitting church. Even so, it is difficult for people to find the courage to move beyond the comfort zone of church into the world with their faith.
The reason for hesitancy is usually fear and fear is usually a sign of limited faith. If this is true, the answer is for our faith to grow in order for our fear to be overcome. The question is how does my faith grow? D.L. Moody explained it this way: “I prayed for faith and thought that some day it would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith didn’t seem to come. One day I read in Romans that ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God’. I had up to this time, closed my Bible and prayed for faith. Now I opened my Bible and began to study and faith has been growing ever since.”
Bible study is certainly one of the building blocks of an active faith. However, we can memorize the Bible cover to cover and still be faced with that moment in time when we must step out of our comfort zone and move into the world. Like learning to walk, the most difficult and most fearful step is the first one. With each additional step, our confidence grows. With each additional step, we will come to know the excitement that comes from walking with God and living on the edge.
Only God fully knows the thrilling things that await us, if we will jump the wall of fear that surrounds us and throw ourselves into the things He has for us. Isn’t it time that we cease to be like the African impala, content to be comfortable in confinement because of its fear of the unknown?