Sometimes artists use a play on words to communicate a completely different message from what a title suggests. Such is the case of today’s song by Send the Beggar, an alternative rock group from Columbus, Ohio. While living in Cleveland I came across this band which is one of my favorites despite their limited number of albums, just two. Send the Beggar’s sound and lyrics struck a cord with my soul while in college.
Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice, be in high spirits and glory with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem [in that day], Zephaniah 3:14.
Leaving Jesus refers to making a spiritual impact on your community. Rather than abandon Jesus while out in public, Send the Beggar wants their listeners to leave behind a legacy of faith. Apparently, parts of Columbus were run down and dangerous. As a former social worker for the Methodist Action Plan in inner city, Wilmington, cleaning up run down areas gives people hope of a brighter future by leaving Jesus everywhere you go in life.
Today’s title is found in the lyrics of a band based in Columbus, Ohio. Send the Beggar’s second album Closer to Complete features a song entitled The Knot. The message is based upon a Christian who blends into their surroundings, afraid to make a public confession of a faith in Jesus. The lyrics include an autopsy performed by an angel, carefully examining this person’s heart. Inside the name Jesus Christ is pulled out, causing confusion which prompts a question: “why was this never shown?”
Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions, Romans 6:11-12.
One of the things I struggled with as a new Christian was mixing feelings with faith. My life was like an emotional roller coaster lifting everyone up around me while on my highs. This was quickly replaced by depression as I sucked the joy out of every room that I entered. To be honest, there have been periods where I exhibited no signs of life as a Christian. Like James 1:13-15, my faith was dead inside.
Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and [a]faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and [b]faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy], Romans 6:13-14.
Apparently, first century Christians in Rome also experienced spiritual dry spells. Depending upon how you lived in the past, breaking any addiction or bad habit can take years. Similar to an internal tug of war, Galatians 5:16-18, ridding your life of sinful desires isn’t easy. King David describes this conviction and pain in Psalm 55:1-4. Whenever you find yourself spiritually dead or dying, on the verge of walking away from your faith, pour out your heart to God in prayer. May confession bring you back to life spiritually in 2022.
When the world was worried about Y2K in 1999, an obscure Christian group named Send the Beggar released an album to inspire believers to find Jesus in a skeptical world. Entitled Closer to Complete, this collection of ballads and rock n roll encourages believers to leave Jesus wherever you go. Leave in the sense of a legacy of faith, not abandoning or turning on and off your faith like many do today.
And Jesus said to him, Today is [[b]Messianic and spiritual] salvation come to [all the members of] this household, since Zacchaeus too is a [real spiritual] son of Abraham; 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:9-10.
When you read the Bible, first impressions of the Gospels tend to be like a sales pitch that sounds too good to be true. When Jesus stops to have a meal at the house of corrupt tax collector, this doesn’t seem fair or just. Yet, as Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus, an overwhelming sense of conviction struck his heart. Instead of trying to find a way to write this off, Zacchaeus confessed and vowed to give back more than what he had stolen from hard working citizens.
For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. 18 He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation—he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ’s name,] John 3:16-18.
In the passage above, this time a Jewish leader seeks Jesus out at night. Likely afraid of what the other Pharisees would think if seen associating with Jesus, Nicodemus chooses the cover of darkness to ask Him about eternal life. Unfortunately, Nick couldn’t comprehend the concept of being born again. After a sarcastic comment, Nick shuts up and listens to one of the most famous verses in the Bible. The key to finding Jesus is a skeptical world is letting go of control and let Jesus to the wheel, Romans 10:9-11.
Before the days of mandatory car seats and vehicles with air conditioning, I usually found myself in the middle seat, between my 2 older sisters. Recently, I was forced to take the only empty seat on an airplane, traveling from Chicago to Los Angelos for 4 hours with 2 strangers. Whether as a child or adult, being caught in between can be unsettling. Yet, while in this position, you have the ability to influence others.
After serving 6 years on a church board, I realized that I was sitting in the middle pew, between the shepherd and his sheep. John 10:1-5. Unfortunately, I lost sight of the role God had placed me in. A similar fate spread to most of the other elders, who wilted when the going got tough. Although I thought I had done what I could, hindsight has revealed I should have been more proactive in protecting God’s flock.
From a modern perspective, the man and or woman in the middle has a great opportunity to sway others toward their worldview. When a leader seizes the moment, their witness, good or bad, can mold, shape and transform innocent bystanders, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. By rubbing off on those whom you encounter, you have the power to Leave Jesus as portrayed in Send the Beggar’s song on their Closer to Complete album. Therefore, if you want to leave your mark on this generation, don’t let the sun go down until you have maximized each moment you find yourself sitting in the middle seat.