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Here’s the Hill I Would Die On

We have a mental health crisis and people are looking for answers. Are there any? Living in this lockdown world the past two years, at times I’ve been confused about what my life is about. With death from the virus a daily reality, what hill would I be willing to die on? Nothing is more im…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

We have a mental health crisis and people are looking for answers. Are there any?

Living in this lockdown world the past two years, at times I’ve been confused about what my life is about. With death from the virus a daily reality, what hill would I be willing to die on? Nothing is more important than coming to clarity about that.

And as a follower of Jesus, I am challenged to live how he lived. The Bible tells me, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:6)

So, the hill I’m willing to die on is showing others that Jesus and his way of living is exactly what people need today. Where we often get stuck is in defining what that means. We fall short when we define it in terms of religious traditions.

11 years ago I wrote about it in this blog. Yes, I accepted Christ as my savior as a child, but as I grew, I had to come to grips with what that commitment would cost me. For years I’ve been stirred by the question: How would Jesus disciple if he were starting over today?

Jesus’s model of challenging his disciples reached its greatest intensity as described in Luke 9-10. It’s a model where, early in their time together, we see Jesus sending out his disciples with no resources so as to demonstrate the power of God to a hurting world.
I asked that question in building AIM. Jesus is still wanting to introduce young people to a hurting world where their hearts can be broken and reformed around God’s priorities.
I’ve found that when you do that, Jesus shows up over and over again as he has for Sarah, Sonya, and a girl in Malawi whose name I don’t know.
  • Sarah, a blind girl by herself in a dark room in the Philippines. One of our teams found her, clothed and fed her, and got her help.
  • Sonya, an 11 year-old sold into sex slavery in Cambodia. She was rescued and have reached out to others like her.
  • An 8 year-old girl in Malawi asked for prayer at our outreach. Her neck had been slit and she asked for prayer that the hole in her throat would close.

These situations break the heart of Jesus and I think he wants our hearts to break too. He looks at these girls, each living a personal horror show with no one watching and he says, “This is not OK!” I think he’s looking for someone to take up their cause.

The irony is that so many young people in America are bored and self-absorbed. They sense that their world is too small. It feels too claustrophobic to them. If they see a chance to make a difference, many will jump at it.

Given this, Jesus’ example looks not anachronistic, but exhilarating. Jesus didn’t give his disciples the pablum we offer in so many churches – he gave them the red meat of impossible situations that required supernatural intervention.
I’ve always been committed to the theory that what Jesus said and did applies to today without any updating or watering down. When I was a kid, I was given the theology that he no longer moved in power. But it just seemed harder to believe that than it did to believe the opposite: the possibility that his methods are the same today as they were in Galilee.
If Jesus were walking the earth today, I don’t think he’d embrace the discipleship method so popular in America. I don’t not think he’d give us more information. I bet he’d have us book a few flights and take us to the world’s slums and dumps to pray for people instead.
I think he’d send his disciples to the world’s dark places. Countries like Moldova where 90% of the young people leave the country and a quarter of them are trafficked. Cities like Manila and Phnom Penh, where hundreds work in the garbage heaps. Countries like Eswatini where at one point AIDS afflicted 44% of the adult population and caused the orphan population to skywark. Places like Newark, Denver, Toronto and L.A. where people are lonely, cynical and in need of a touch. Hospitals and nursing homes, city streets and holler roads.
And I’ll bet that if Jesus were calling out his disciples today, he’d spend more than just a few hours a week with them helping them to discover what it means to walk out their faith in a complicated and harsh world. I’m guessing that he’d prod them till they got to the point where they were willing to risk all for the dream of establishing his kingdom.
None of this is new, though it sounds almost crazy to our modern ears. It’s nothing more than listening to his voice and moving out in obedience. It doesn’t fit into a curriculum or a program or a classroom.
Jesus is still dreaming of a generation that will live to see the glory of God cover the earth. I believe he’s waiting for young people who are willing to take him at his word.

Comments (9)

  • Seth…thank you for these piercing images & words. My heart needs to be broken over these issues. We live in a bubble & it is difficult to see beyond it at times. I need a new & fresh perspective of Gods heart for a broken world.

    • Last I talked to you, Mike, your heart had been broken as deeply as a father’s can be broken. You’ve always had the biggest of hearts. Thanks for caring about those on God’s heart!

  • “I’m guessing that he’d prod them till they got to the point where they were willing to risk all for the dream of establishing his kingdom.”
    Yes and amen!

  • Seth,

    I continue to be stirred by your words. I have often thought that as American Christians we need to recover a theology of Christian risk. I want to choose significance over safety.

    Genae and I are trying to walk that path. Lord willing, we are moving to our family to Papua New Guinea in January 2023 to serve as medical missionaries.

    Thank you for your blog!


  • I love this Seth, and am still believing that God will raise up world race alum to give up their lives to come to the Philippines with Wipe Every Tear to rescue and restore girls and women trafficked in the sex trade.

    Revival is here, and is coming. Angeles City (City of Angels!) is and will become a touch down city of Holy Spirit. He told us that, and we believe him. The red Light street there is named “FIELD’S avenue. Only God!

    The FIELDS are ripe and we continue to pray and declare that the Lord of the Harvest will send workers here. The harvest is ripe and really here and ready. Maybe some reading this will be part of the great harvest that God is promising. Maybe others will forward this blog to their friends and contacts. Oh, I hope you will.

    You can call me directly here in Boise, Idaho at 208-866-1967. We are serious about “recruiting” workers full of Holy Spirit who want to give their lives to set these lovely women free. I/we only want what Jesus wants for you.

    “Oh Lord of the harvest, we need workers passionate for heaven and full of you. Send them Jesus. It’s time, oh it’s time…”

  • Melinda, there are not adequate words to describe the “amen” and “yes Lord” deep in my heart in response to your comments and your heart. I am with you sister. “Oh come Immanuel…”

  • These reflections and thoughts of yours are a breath of fresh air to me. Thank you for putting them out here for the world to see and consider.

    Just yesterday I was talking with a friend about my concern that it feels like where we are at in this world is a place where many demand Jesus be declawed. Part of this awareness came as I was listening to an old song of a friend of mine, entitled, “Send Me” (https://jimweber.com/track/1021627/send-me). The words of the song could be the soundtrack of this blog post!

    I was struck by the intensity of the words in the song, so I pondered whether it would even be received if I posted it on my page because it seems to me it might be perceived as too intense to this world’s “delicate ears” in relationship to Jesus. Was it red meat that would be chewed up and spit out? Watered down to make it more “palatable”? Yet 30 years ago, that song had an audience. They could handle it and act on it.

    I wonder if it could fall on listening ears again and inspire people to look up from their phones and Instagram feeds and actually see real live human beings in front of them dying and waiting for a response rather than a “like”?

    “Why are the living so ignorant and blind, walking around so busily and never really seeing one another at all?” Thornton Wilder

    “I am much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy.” Katie Davis

    Personally, all I know is that here in Mozambique, I’ve found some young adults willing to go with me to the country’s largest dump and pray & distribute some small care-packages for people at Christmas who would otherwise be forgotten, hungry, and unlikely to even receive one gift!

    • You are such an inspiration to me, Melinda. This morning I was looking at an email you forwarded me from Rolland and Heidi Baker 21 years ago. I often wonder who will carry the torch after we are gone. I’m doubling down on my calling and on the 2 Timothy 2:2 protocol we’ve been given.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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