This is a change of pace for this place I call my blog, both in that I don't think anyone actually ever reads this, and that it has a focused intent for the next few weeks/months. Doing a "Radical read-along" with many amazing folks through this amazing lady's blog has made me think I might just be crazy, and I've started getting strange looks from fellow Christians, which is always fun! So, here we go on a new adventure...
Am I willing to give up everything for the sake of the One who gave up everything for me? I give money to missionaries that I love and pray for. I help in fundraising efforts for mission trips going out from my church. Heck! I even went on a trip to Guatemala. I spend time with other people's teenagers, gladly (most of the time) loving them through their messiness. We try to find things to cut out of our budget so that we can support church planting and adoptions. I'm a pretty radical Christian right? Or am I like a ridiculously wealthy person who gives to charity to alleviate some guilt and also get a tax break? Some spoiled kid who does community service for the sake of getting out of more serious punishment?
I used to dream of being a missionary, living in a foreign land, loving people for Jesus. Then i got older, realized that was a lot of hard, heart-breaking work that I wasn't sure I wanted, married a man who has a hard time traveling to another state, much less another country, and laughed it off as the dreams of youth, like when I said I wanted to be an astronaut or a paleontologist or a lawyer. I decided (of my own volition mind you) that we (once married it becomes a we excuse, not just an I excuse) just weren't called to ministry, and we would just try to support our local church, and maybe go on short term stuff if we had the money. What?! Jesus included me in the "Go into all the world" part of the Great Commission, and yet I chalked it up to Him not meaning ALL the world since my husband doesn't travel well! Are you kidding me? What a wimp I am!
We just finished a sermon series on Luke at our church, and we kept coming across things like "let the dead bury the dead, come follow Me," and "sell everything you have, give it to the poor and follow Me," and "whoever wants to follow Me must hate their family" and my personal favorite "whoever preserves their own life with lose it, but whoever loses their life for My sake with find it." Meanwhile we're working through the Heidelberg Catechism with the youth and get to the Ten Commandments. In trying to get them to think of what idols are,, I tell them it's anything in our lives that we love as much or more than God. There is no competition, He is to be our only love, not one of many. At the same time I'm reading through Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, and see all of the times that the people did evil in the sight of the Lord, defiled His holy temple, and had to be brought low in order to see their sin. Then it hits me, my relationship to everyone and everything should look like hate in comparison to my love for God, and it doesn't. My body is the temple of the Most High, and yet I have filled the dwelling place of my Creator with idols of comfort, family, financial stability, church activities, food, and have pushed the holy altar of God to the corner so that I don't have to feel obligated to lay my life upon it.
Jesus wants me to be healthy, wealthy, and wise right? Jesus wants me to raise sweet little babies who look like their momma, have brains like their daddy, and know Bible verses by learning cute little songs. Jesus wants us to retire early, send our babies to good colleges, and always teach them the importance of 10% to God and 10% to savings. Right? This is my future right? Wait, where does "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me" fit into that? ummm, it doesn't.
What if we haven't been able to conceive because God has children for us who look like other mommas and daddys? What if God has given us the wisdom to get out of debt so that when He calls us to full-time ministry we don't have the weight of debt holding us back? What if He directed us to a church planting church so that we can be church planters? What if He gave us a beautiful home so that we can bring beautiful, desperate, pregnant women into a safe place where adoption is the answer, not abortion? What if He has brought crazy missionaries into our lives not just so we can support them financially, but to give us inspiration to go? What if I really believed what He said, and obeyed it? What if I let Him break my heart for the world that he longs to save, for the billions of people who haven't heard, for the millions of children without parents, for the people who are my eternal family? What if I stop trying to control everything, and understand that He effortlessly "upholds all things by the word of His power." (Heb 1:3)
In His sovreign plan He is working all things to conform me into the image of Christ, who is the exact representation of the nature of the Almighty Father. What makes me think that He should look like me? He is making me look like Him. With the word of His power.