Ordinary Life

2016-03-25 18.36.04In Christian culture, it is so often glorified to live “sold-out for God” – trusting him for everything and not being ensnared by worldly things. John the Baptist and almost all the other Biblical prophets are good examples. Modern examples abound as well, and they can inspire and challenge us. But I wonder if focusing only on the most dramatic examples of faithfulness sets us up to feel like failures if we end up having an ordinary life.

What about those of us who don’t get a radical prophetic call? Can we be sold out for Jesus and still take a mortgage? Can we make friends without evangelising them or indulge our kids in ice cream truck treats without guilt over the panhandlers we passed by? I think the answer is sometimes yes. Does that sound like a middle class cop out? Maybe it is – I’m trying to figure out where to draw the line!2016-03-25 23.15.29

I don’t believe God gave us life simply for us to suffer (not that a life of sacrifice is necessarily a life of suffering). His promise is for abundant life to all who believe in him, and abundant life can take many different forms I think. At the centre of all those different forms is obedience to Christ and I think that’s where it gets tricky. We focus on the outer things (since that’s all we can see, right?) and sometimes the outside of a Christian life doesn’t look very radical or exciting. We are often¬†chasing the same stuff as our unsaved friends and neighbours and talking like we’re all in the same boat – wishing we had more money, more free time, less debt, less stress. We know in theory these things will all pass away, but we want to live wholeheartedly while we’re here, and that requires us to plug in, to engage and invest in this world.

When I first heard the phrase “evangelical hero complex” I felt like I’d been handed a decoder for half my brain. I grew up on Christian testimonies from missionaries and former drug addicts and persecuted believers. I heard them in church and read them in books, and I was so moved I could sometimes cry over just how much God loves his people. I couldn’t see a place for my story though: good Christian girl is mostly good, then a little bad, then comes to Jesus and lives happily ever after (never mind that happily ever after is a pretty bold gloss over my own angst and God’s grace). The evangelical hero complexsays I need to do and/or be something great for God to count, when the gospel of Christ declares that I count and that I have been set free. Christ’s yoke is easy and life-giving, not a crushing gauntlet of sacrifice.

There is sacrifice and there is struggle, don’t get me wrong, because our spirits and flesh war with each other. Part of us doesn’t want to be free, I think. Letting ourselves be driven by fear, by greed, by ego can be easier than walking straight and narrow through a life that can introduce us to eternity, even though it itself will pass away.

And God will sometimes call us to do crazy, bold, extraordinary things, so when we hear his voice we should listen Рhe knows the way to life and abundant life. But sometimes that still small voice may simply help us stay patient or give us comfort or refresh us on a dreary day.2016-05-08 19.10.07

This life will pass away, but we shouldn’t wish it away or throw it away or wait for God to do something amazing before we start living it fully. He has done the amazing thing already, and we have the privilege of spending our days in the light of his love, wherever and however it takes us.

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