With a seemingly unnatural amount of energy, author Bob Goff took the Vines Center stage Friday at Liberty University Convocation, inciting cheers and laughter throughout his message as he told students that God wants them to go big with their faith instead of living with uncertainty.
Goff’s speech received much enthusiasm from Liberty’s students — who gave Goff a standing ovation at its conclusion — and was a top-trending topic on Twitter.
Johnnie Moore, senior vice president for communications, introduced Goff, who authored “Love Does,” a New York Times bestseller. Moore said the book is one of the best he has ever read.
Goff is a humanitarian and lawyer. He founded Restore International, a nonprofit that fights injustices committed against children in Uganda and India. Goff is also the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Uganda to the United States.
|Bob Goff, author of "Love Does," gave an animated message at Liberty University Convocation, which drew an enthusiastic response from the crowd.|
As Goff took the stage, laughing and shaking his hands with glee, he announced, “I am so amped up I make coffee nervous.” That set the tone for an energetic and inspiring message encouraging the audience to live with abandon in response to God’s love.
“There is a big difference between waving at Jesus and following him,” Goff said. “Take the next step, I don’t know what the next step is for you, just take it.”
He explained that people so often like the idea of following Jesus but don’t actually do it. This is because they are afraid, he said.
“If there is one message throughout scripture, Goff said, “it is these three words: ‘Be not afraid.’” He cited several examples from the Bible, including Joshua and Jesus’ disciples.
“If we weren’t afraid, nobody would be afraid, it is just contagious in that way.”
Goff said that God has a message for the audience, and it is “go big.”
One of the best ways to do this, Goff explained, is to hold people close instead of just holding them accountable, which he thinks is a second-rate approach to relationships.
“Jesus didn’t run around holding everybody accountable, he just held everybody close,” Goff said. “If you have been held close, you get both.”
By holding each other close, according to Goff, we are able to see people for who they are becoming and not who they appear to be, which is how God sees them.
“Some of you are taking selfies in front of your biggest mess-ups and putting them on the refrigerator saying ‘this is who I still am,’” Goff said. “Baloney! That is who you were. God sees us for who we are becoming. And it changes everything when you do that.”
To help people grow into the best version of themselves, Goff said, we should be talking about people behind their backs — but talking about the right things. By honoring each other, we honor Christ, he said.
“Love God, love people, do stuff,” he challenged the audience. He then added that we should stop trying to be more right than the next person and instead be humble.
“Don’t try to win battles Jesus has already won,” Goff said.
Another way to honor Christ is by loving our enemies. Goff admitted that he would rather love other people’s enemies than his own — they are enemies for a reason. He said forgiving others and living life boldly involves risks.
Goff shared stories from his own life about how he learned these lessons. He stepped out to the edge of his comfort zone, learned to not be afraid, and began a nonprofit to stand up for the hurting people in Uganda.
When visiting Uganda, Goff noticed overcrowded prisons, many flooded with children under the age of 15. Putting his lawyering skills to work, he has now seen hundreds of children released from prison. Goff also stood up against the practice of child sacrifice in the country by confronting a prominent witch doctor. When a child victim of the witch doctor survived mutilation, Goff took the man to court and ultimately won conviction.
Even after all that the witch doctor had done to hurt others, Goff went to visit him in prison. The witch doctor was so remorseful for what he had done that he fell to his knees and begged for forgiveness.
Though admittedly reluctant, Goff forgave him and led the man to Christ.
“Isn’t it great that God’s ability to forgive us is not limited by our ability to get it?” Goff announced.
As a changed man, the witch doctor went on to preach the love of Christ within the overcrowded maximum-security prison in which he now lives.
“I think that God wants us living right on the edge of ‘yikes,’” Goff said. “Guys like me are comfortable. We don’t need the Holy Spirit … we forget about that. If you are not living on the edge of yikes, find somebody who is and just climb out on the edge with them.”
Goff reminded the crowd of 1 Corinthians 1:27 which says that God uses things that are foolish to displace the wise so that no one can boast in anything but the Lord. God does miraculous things, Goff said, in order to blow our minds.
In closing, Goff reminded the audience that there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from Jesus’ love. He said that in Uganda there is a tradition that after a death sentence has been signed in court the judge breaks the pen and says “what has been done today will never be undone.”
“That is what Jesus is thinking about you guys,” Goff said about Christ’s eternal love for His creation. “He has done big stuff in your life. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. What has been done today can never be undone.”
After his message, Goff took time to meet with students, take pictures with them, and share more encouraging words.