I don’t know about you, but when I walk out into a brisk three-degree day, the first thing I’m considering isn’t how the flagpole tastes. Just sayin’.
It’s a classic childhood scenario. The kind parents don’t think to warn their kids about until they’re contemplating which temperature of water will melt tongue away from a frozen pole.
I’m not quite sure how my six-year-old escaped such fate on a day when it seemed like every other first grader at his school wasn’t so fortunate. Right place at the right time, I suppose. I’ll take it.
But the stories pour in and white spots sprinkled on the flagpole tell more than I need to know.
You know how it goes. Child A dares. child B, C, and D do. Then, depending on personality, child A learns a life lesson either the easy way, never again darkening the base of a frozen flagpole, or the hard way, joining B, C, and D in an eventful recess, parting ways with a portion of his tongue.
While the whole thing is intriguing — how some kids find the taste of playground metal all too tempting — I’m most fascinated by the dare that prompts it all. The dare from the curious child who’s heard and wonders if it’s true. Surely a child who has come face-to-face (pun intended) with the aftermath of a frozen-pole-tongue wouldn’t throw out such a careless dare.
No, the darer has no first-person accounts to draw from. He’s the Curious George of the bunch. The knows-just-enough-to-be-dangerous.
As I consider the dare and the motivations of such a chap, I can’t help but think of more educated dares. The variety adults partake in. Like Christians “daring” people to try Jesus. Dare may seem like an odd way to describe it. But that’s often what’s happening, is it not? Daring people to try Jesus. But not the real-deal Jesus. The “Jesus” we (even-genuinely) try to peddle when we’re not fully sure we know Him ourselves.
We love to tack Jesus on the stuff we love and blame Him for our choices.
We love to announce how we’re following Him and showcase what we deem His “applause.”
We love to hide behind Him from the big scary world.
We love to wear Him like a membership card and tout Him as a celebrity.
We even love to disown Him quietly when He’s all too inconvenient.
The problem is this. We’re not daring people to try the Gospel-preaching, grace-giving, life-saving Jesus. We’re daring them to try the manmade, fault-finding, do-it-yourself Jesus, because that’s how we know Him. We speak bits and pieces of the real Jesus, but we don’t breathe Him from our core in a way that leads anyone to the cross.
We’re just daring people to try Him, with no true first-person accounts of our own.
If my life bears the marks of a woman daily-desperate for the mercy-work done at the cross, I can stop daring people to try Jesus. I can walk hand-in-hand as we experience Him together. I can’t just admire Him from afar and then dare others to do the same. That kind of dare leads to frozen tongues and unstickable bandaids. I need to know Him so truly that His real-deal-ness more than dares someone to try Him, but irresistibly beckons them to taste and see.
Not a frozen flagpole that will leave more scars than bragging rights.
But a relational God who draws near to the brokenhearted, made a path for the ever-faulting, and gives hope that outlasts the turmoil of this age.
I’d dare you to try Him but instead, I’ll invite you alongside as I continue to seek Him myself.