The Extra Mile
It’s Time to Go The Extra Mile
I’ve made numerous attempts over the years to change to a healthy diet. Unfortunately, the only differentiating variable of my efforts has been how long my willpower lasts before my aspiration crashes into hot apple pie and ice cream.
But the stakes are high this time.
For nearly a year, I’ve been waking up in pain at 4am with pain that feels like I’ve been drugged and asleep on concrete. The resulting throb in my back and rib cage has limited me to six hours of sleep per night or less. My body aches like I imagined it would at age 80.
Two weeks ago, the pain became unbearable. I told my wife Karin I was “one tick” away from heading to Urgent Care. The pain was so extreme it impacted my breathing – this time at 2am.
The next day I searched every corner of the internet for information about back pain – what to eat, not eat, exercises, stretching, dry needling, acupuncture, mattress selection, physical therapy – yes, I’m desperate. I discovered on webmd.com that one pound of excess fat in the midsection equals four pounds of pressure on the back. I made up my mind to lose 12-15 pounds (totaling 48-60 pounds of joint/spinal pressure).
No more hot apple pie and ice cream for me.
Of course, it’s possible I’ll implode once football season starts and you invite me over for cheese brats, but this attempt feels different. I’m not just working on willpower motivated by vanity or guilt; this is more about survival.
My heart is in it this time.
Jesus the Traffic Cop
Is your heart engaged with your faith? Or just your willpower?
Human souls tend to want a “religion” that exercises willpower to follow rules because it appears to offer control.
“If I do these things, then I can expect God to…” we think, even subconsciously, and feel a little bit of self-assuring power. Our souls line up like cars at Colorado’s In-N-Out debut trying to use our willpower to “be a good Christian.”
And then there is Jesus, standing like a traffic cop at the intersection of these realities, urging us back to God-focused love, passion and the heart behind life and relationships. His famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), aimed at misguided rule worshippers, is a classic teaching of Jesus the Traffic Cop.
You have heard it said (insert willpower-based rule)…
but I tell you (insert heart-filled response)…
Whether it’s murder, divorce, adultery, generosity, lust, conflict or revenge, Jesus continually waves us down the road veering away from mere willpower into a life filled with a passionate pursuit of adventure in the Kingdom of God.
Go the Extra Mile
It’s one thing to have a heart-inspired faith, it’s quite another to be so passionate about drawing others to experience Jesus’s Kingdom that even strangers and enemies become the recipients of blessing.
Matthew 5:41 features this famous phrase:
If someone asks you to go one mile, go another.
I’ve always thought this famous phrase is just a synonym for “be really nice to each other.” But Jesus had something more radical in mind, and his original audience would have gasped at this teaching. The Roman army occupied Israel during Jesus’s day, and soldiers would force their conquered subjects to carry their supplies, food, etc. for a mile. These soldiers believed it was their right, as conquerors, to treat Israelites like pack mules.
In the face of this oppression, Jesus says go an extra mile – carry the enemy’s gear double the distance – even when not requested. In other words, bless your enemies and those you’ve never met.
Go the extra mile.
Has Jesus the Traffic Cop gone too far this time?
Frankly, His teaching is an affront to my ego because I don’t even go the extra mile for myself, let alone someone who doesn’t like me. I’m lucky if I don’t cuss out the BMW who cuts me off in traffic. I’m just pleased if my kids aren’t in the car to see it.
In living by spiritual willpower, I fail to realize Jesus’s greater heart-filled vision.
Jesus envisions a movement of disruptive generosity forcing the watching world into a disorientation of its reality. Going the extra mile breaks the revenge/retaliation cycle and infuses peace and generosity into an angry universe. In the face of this generosity, the world is forced to ask, “Why?”
Go the extra mile.
My Heart Experiment and an Invitation
I’m trying a heart experiment over the next 30 days and am inviting you to join me.
Some of you know I’m part of a heart-filled organization called Stadia that is trying to help every person on the globe, especially vulnerable children, have access to a healthy, thriving church. The Church, for some crazy reason, is God’s Plan A for how people will know Jesus and become a force in Jesus’s grace-filled extra mile army.
I’ve decided to attempt to raise money for people who don’t yet know about Jesus – $50K by September 18. Yikes. It’s a daunting challenge.
But my heart is in it.
Will you consider going the extra mile with me to help every person on the planet have a church where Jesus’s vision is accessible?
I’ve never made a request like this on my blog before so this, in and of itself, is a risk.
But, if your heart is in it, there are two ways to help:
- You can give HERE to go the extra mile with your generosity for people you will never know!
- You can join a team and participate in one of the countless ‘Go The Extra Mile’ Events happening across the country.
Or do both!
It would suck to be on a walk alone so, if you’re in Colorado, come with me. We’ll have a great time talking, I’ll bring my new puppy and some of my famous pecan rolls (oh wait, I can’t eat any of those).
And, if you come, there should be four less pounds of me by then.
But hopefully more heart.
Jim is focused on helping churches across the central US multiply by planting new churches both domestically and globally. Jim has pastored in multiple large churches in the western US and most recently planted Ascent Community Church in Louisville, Colo. Jim is the co-author of the “Can I Ask That?” book series with the Fuller Youth Institute and is the former public address announcer for the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball. Jim loves fly fishing, backpacking and lives in Colorado with his wife, Karin, and boys, Josh and Micah.