You Just Go For The Throat

I have too much ambition. I remember the first day I hit the UT campus, the snot-nosed freshman looking to change the world dressed in his high school letter jacket, seeing atheists and agnostics around me like competitors waiting in line for their turn at the big fight.

I remember the first mentor I ever had, a wise man I love dearly, walking with me away from the first time we’d ever spread the Gospel together shaking his head slow. Not disapproving. Not scolding. Just the opposite: he was filled with the Spirit, I could see it in his eyes. But his voice was soft and low—I think he didn’t know what to say, “You just go for the throat. Every shot you take, you just go for the throat.”

I go for the throat—I think when he said it he meant more than what he’d conveyed. But I just smiled. I laughed a little, and I changed the topic. I was thinking about how I’d never said a word. That was my life he’d seen, poured out in words into the ears of one God had chosen to know Him some day. It was my passion, my breath, my food, my drink, my deepest love. It was the soul God made in me, played like music. It wasn’t my words. I couldn’t even remember what I’d said.

The Gospel is a simple message: God has given the world life through the death of His Son (John 3:16); the Light of men shines in the darkness (John 1:4-5); the life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son (Gal 2:20). One speaks a simple message, and one glorifies the King. The King’s Spirit moves to save those He’s chosen—unfailing, unrelenting, perfect. And that’s the Gospel, the church mice swear. But I don’t buy it.

The Gospel, Simple

Every time I drive through my home town I see the Gospel plastered on a billboard by the side of I-35. JESUS LOVES YOU. THE SON OF GOD HAS GRANTED YOU FREEDOM FROM YOUR SINS. The address of a church. A white dude in a toga and long, flowing, gorgeous brown hair. I wonder if the church has ever gotten a call. I wonder if the call they might’ve gotten was recorded for mockery later by the caller.

See, Paul preached the Gospel. James, John, Peter—they preached the Gospel. I have to qualify that, of course; ‘preached’ just means ‘shouted’ these days.

Try again, Scott: Paul, James, John, Peter—they poured their lives out in service of their King. When they spoke of the crucified Christ, they spoke of the thing they prayed for night and day, the hope of their life, to see the Gospel take root in other people around them. They meant their very life. They didn’t have billboards. They didn’t have ideas. They just knew Jesus would do it, so they focused on Him.

And they were people about it—nothing was hidden in their lives, and that gave their Gospel punch. Their salt was spice, and those around them loved it or spat it out straight away. Every chance they had, they went for the throat, because they knew every conversation they had would be held to light by their Lord.

But I don’t see that around me very much these days. I don’t see the fight of Epaphras, ‘wrestling’ in prayer for the sanctification of his beloved friends (Col. 4:12). I don’t see the grit of Paul, taming his mind to center itself on Heaven and its pleasures to help make sense of the pain of life on Earth.

But we do have strategies. And my goodness, we make pretty billboards.

They had billboards too—they called it the grace of the Lord. And I have a feeling they were much more visible.

My King, may my life be poured out for You! May my sin be brought to light, and may my pleasures in the world be only that which pleases You. Please make my very life an outpouring of the Gospel. When any man sees me, may it not be my flesh they see—may it be the grace that You’ve given me, grace seeping through my life, grace like a sweet aroma around me. In my heart, please give me the wisdom and grace to only focus on You, that Your Will may be accomplished completely in me. May all that I do be a testament to Your glory, that when I finally see You I bring the ten minas You’ve given me home with ten more. In Jesus’ name, please change me.