I sat in a hard plastic chair on the back porch of a stranger's home in Lilongwe, Malawi. Charles, a local pastor whom I had met maybe an hour before, shared the story of how he had in his words been "arrested" by Jesus years ago - and since then, as a man bound by the Gospel, consumed with seeing the Kingdom of God overcome the kingdom of darkness in his country.
He shared stories of how God was graciously and powerfully moving among his people for nearly two hours after that - little of which I heard. My mind had been caught by his description of the hold that Jesus had on his heart - arrested.
I lost myself in that word. I wanted the same to be true of me. I wondered if it was and what it would look like if my heart was as shackled to Jesus as my new friend Charles' was. To be arrested by Jesus. To be bound but free. Imprisoned but liberated. Confined but set loose. This is more than what I simply want...it is what I desperately need. It is what I have always longed to have but could not put words to - and now, in Africa, I have finally found the word, or perhaps the word found me...arrested.
I can't walk among the streets of the impoverished and have my heart not arrested by Jesus. I can't look in the eyes of a starving child and have my heart not arrested by Jesus. I can't see the broken and smell the oppression of a people created and loved by God and have my heart not arrested by Jesus. I can't embrace those who hold little in their hands but treasure much in their hearts and have my heart not arrested by Jesus. I can't know of the orphaned and oppressed and have my heart not arrested by Jesus. I can't live in the realm of darkness and plead for the Kingdom of light to come in my neighborhood and my city and the world and have my heart still arrested by my own comforts and securities and ambitions and desires. I can't long to see the Gospel taken to all peoples in all nations and have my heart still arrested by the American dream. I can't, and I won't. Not any longer.
MAY GOD ARREST MY HEART | Arrest my desires. Arrest my perspectives. Arrest my dreams. Arrest my ambitions. Arrest my comforts and my securities and plans. Arrest my weaknesses and my strengths. Set me free into the captivity of being consumed with the singular passion of seeing the beauty of Jesus magnified among all peoples. May He take me to places my comfort would never allow, show me things my theology cannot explain and give me over to things my security would otherwise forbid. May He deconstruct the American dream within me and bind me up into something greater - dreaming dreams that in the end leave me empty but fulfilled - after a life spent poured out for the very things and people that Jesus so passionately poured Himself out for.
Let my fear be not in failing, but in succeeding in things that are not bound up in Jesus.
MAY GOD ARREST THE CHURCH IN AMERICA | Arrest our appetites for competition and notoriety. Arrest our metrics of growth and sustainability. Arrest our methods and programs and strategies. Arrest our millions spent on stuff. Arrest our pacifying and politicizing and people pleasing. May He move our prayers from simply "God help us" or "God provide for us" or "God protect us" or "God lead us" to "God arrest us for your glory" and "God spend us for the proclamation of your Gospel" and "God empty us for the advancement of your Kingdom". May God free us from the need to prove all that we can do and impress all who we possibly can. May He give us a vision for His Church that begins not with our churches having a mission but with His mission having our churches.
Let the Church's fear be not in failing, but in succeeding in things that are not bound up in Jesus.
MAY GOD ARREST OUR FAMILIES | Arrest our schedules. Arrest the expectations we place on our children. Arrest the pressure we put on them to perform. Arrest our safety. Arrest our compulsion to put on a front. Arrest our need to live in a certain place and go to a certain school and excel in certain activities. Arrest us from the idol of our own domain. May He cause us to lay down our earthly trophies and infuse our families with a greater and more glorious purpose than simply collecting dust on the shelf. May the defining mark on our homes be not what our culture expects of us but what our God desires and demands of us. May God arrest us with a purpose that infuses our marriages with an eternal passion and empowers our parenting with a Kingdom agenda.
Let our family's fear be not in failing, but in succeeding in things that are not bound up in Jesus.
I've been arrested in Africa all over again. I've been reminded of the grace of Jesus towards me and bound up again by His call to spend the cause of my life making His name famous. Extending a hand to the poor, serving the helpless, adopting the orphaned and crawling my way into humble submission towards all peoples so that some might be taken captive by His grace along with me.
I've been arrested in Africa. Shackled by His grace all over again. Bound by His mission until the end. I feel free.