Blown Up By God
Have you ever been put in your place? Maybe a couple things went right in your life and you started to think, “I’m pretty fly. (Though I doubt anyone would say that anymore.)” And then something happens, or someone confronts you and lets you know you’re not quite as great as you thought. Well, I feel like today God put the smack down on me.
If I’m honest, my life is often a series of violent swings from thinking I know nothing and am clueless to thinking I know most things. I think I’ve learned to regulate both of those poles, but I seem to swing toward them without any intent or desire to be in either place. In the last year, the times when I’ve fought thinking I have it together it has gone something like this–“Wow, we gave up some of the best friends we’ve ever had, living by my brother and his family, a secure job at a good church where I got along with all the staff really well, just a really happy life. We moved to a new place where we’ve struggled to make deep friendships (aside from Cory and Megan without whom we’d be in serious trouble), we’ve made it paycheck to paycheck at best, we’ve put our kids in a spot where it’s been difficult for them to make friends, we’re pursuing a totally different form of church that some people get and encourage and others attack and try to destroy. We have given up a lot to follow a pretty radical path of discipleship. (This is when I pull something patting myself on the back.)
Today at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit God responded to that line of thinking. He not so gently pointed out to me that despite my “radical” discipleship, I have next to no contact with the poor and oppressed. I have not regularly asked God to open doors to opportunities to show mercy and pursue justice on behalf of others. Though pursuing our current form of church was difficult and even painful at first, I have settled into a nice comfortable pattern of life that almost never requires that I stretch myself. God reminded me that my commitment to following him means dying to myself, yet I put myself ahead of my wife and kids (let alone others) on a regular basis. I sacrifice little in the grand scheme of things. Beyond the relationships in Denver the things I have sacrificed are things I only believe I’m entitled to because I buy into the lie of consumerism that it will provide me with happiness. I don’t participate in the suffering of Christ and I am too often content to stay as I am.
I don’t know if it’s our culture or just human tendency, but I don’t think I’m totally alone in all of this. At some point we feel this pull to a radical life following a radical God, and maybe we even stretch ourselves in ways that God uses to cause us to grow. But over time we forget the beautiful severity of our call and we settle for comfortable patterns that we assume appease God, though we wouldn’t know because we don’t spend much time asking him. We need, and especially I need, to beseech God to blow our comfortable, lukewarm worlds apart on a daily basis. I cannot become who he wants me to be, but he can make me that man. And if you let him he can make you that person too.