I often read or hear of people calling us to radical living for Jesus. I’m not sure if we know what is meant by that. Or maybe I just don’t know what that means. A Instagram post recently placed an acronym image that left me little choice but to live my life all out, radically and audaciously for Jesus leaving no option for me but to be bold and adventurous.
When I was young and newly committed to following Jesus I saw only one way to do it. With gusto! The books I read, chapel speakers and college professors emboldened me with the charge to give my all for Jesus. Most of us interpreted this call to mean leaving everything behind, going to the furthest, darkest regions of the world. Anything less would not suffice and did not fit the criteria for a true follower of Jesus. Early in my ministry this high octane standard fueled me and empowered me to share my faith, challenge the lost, and even insist one time that my wife join me in going door to door with the urgent message that if people did not repent, well, they’d end up in hell.
I still believe in hell, and I still love sharing my faith, but several years ago I ran out of that driven energy that defined my early years. It’s not disillusionment that causes me now to dispense of (or perhaps redefine) the radical-all-out-everything-or-nothing call to follow Jesus. I’ve just concluded that most of us don’t live there, can’t live there for all that long. I’m also observing something in scripture that calls us to live radically in the mundane, to be faithful in the ordinary places of life. To be like the widow whose unimpressive offering Jesus affirmed as more note-worthy to God, and costly, than the proud, visible-to-all sacrifice made by the Pharisee. (Matthew 12:41-44). I also note how when Paul tells us in Ephesians that we are created for good works in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10) he describes those good works later in the Epistle in terms of a husband loving his wife, a wife honoring her husband, children obeying their parents and employees obeying, without complaining, their employers. Pretty mundane stuff.
Maybe it takes more commitment to serve well and hard on the stage of an empty theater when no one notices me. It takes more courage to push away sin in the quiet of my home, when I’m alone and no one would have ever seen what I did anyway; it’s radical to refuse to let bitterness creep and settle in my heart when I could harbor anger toward someone. Often the adventures of following Jesus take place when no one notices but Jesus.
Today I’m asking different questions than the ones that pushed me into ministry early in my life. Questions like, How can I make a difference? are now taken over by, Am I willing to live an unassuming, behind the scene life from here on? How can God get the most of this life? made an exchange for the reality that it is okay to live through this life where not every hit is a grand slam. The longing to hear God daily and insist that he show up in my life has now been subdued by the truth that I’ll still love and trust him, even if he remains invisible and distant for the rest of my life. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 76:23) replaced the early cry of Philip in John 14:8 Lord show us the Father, and that will be enough. Jesus mildly rebuked Philip by reminding him that the Father had been with him, all along, in the normal daily, ordinary journey of knowing Jesus.
I’m looking for a way to put all I’ve written here into the acronym, O.R.D.I.N.A.R.Y, but I’ll leave that for you to play around with. All creative entries welcome.
Welcome to the adventure of following Jesus, wherever you are right now!
“Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on water is easy to someone with impulsive boldness, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is something altogether different. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he ‘followed at a distance’ on dry land. (Mark 14:54) We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises – human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God – but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people – and this is not learned in one hour.” – Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest Oct.21