I came across this interesting post today, arguing that the pressure to “radical, missional faith” and “doing something extraordinary in the world” is becoming a new kind of legalism within a certain brand of Christianity and is actually leading to a level of fatigue and guilt, especially among younger believers. It is a good piece and worth reading (here).
I have to confess that as a pastor, I preached a consistent message of calling people to radical, extraordinary adventure in following Jesus. In my own life, I have also been most inspired and moved spiritually by leaders/pastors who have made big challenges and big asks and called me to do extraordinary things… people like Erwin McManus, Tony Campolo, Bill Hybels, Mike Yaconelli, Bart Campolo, JR Mahon, Rob Bell, etc etc… maybe it is how I am wired, but it works for me.
That said, now in my post-fulltime-pastor days, working a pretty ordinary job and living a pretty ordinary life, I do feel some sense of let down/failure/under-achievement when I hear those messages today.
BUT… I think the author of the article is missing something big. Perhaps the most radical way to follow Jesus is to do extraordinary acts of love within your ordinary life as a parent, spouse, employee, employer, etc. As Mother Teresa used to say, “find your own Calcutta” (and it may be where you already live).
Is there anything wrong with a Christian living a “normal” suburban family life?
I think it depends on how we are living it.
Are we engaging our neighbors and loving them in practical ways?
Are we investing in our community and relationships with the people we interact with every day?
Are we being salt and light where we are right now?
I think of a friend of mine named Bryan. He is a pastor and missionary to his community. And he is a dad and a husband and a surfer and a runner and a whole bunch of other “ordinary” things. But he is anything but ordinary… he finds himself in the middle of miracles almost every day… because he is looking for them. He shares Jesus wherever he goes, serves whenever he can (he is almost always interruptable for a conversation, to help fix a kids bike, or help a neighbor out). Bryan is an example of an ordinary disciple doing extraordinary things in the power of Christ.
This, to me, is the essence of radical Christianity — the kind of Christianity that should actually be normative, not radical. It is a sad statement about the state of modern Christianity that these things are considered radical.
Read the article… and let me know your thoughts.