You may be wondering what it is that I have been talking about when I have been saying things like..."surrender every area of my life to His Kingdom."
What? Aren't you already a Christian? Isn't your husband a Youth Pastor? Aren't you the Director of Ladies' Ministries at your church? So what big, bad things have you been doing that you need to surrender?
And that's where it gets a little fuzzy in the Christian community. You see, I haven't been doing anything that one would consider "bad" or "rebellious" as a Christian. I have just grown a little too comfortable in my safe and controlled life. I'm afraid that I fit the "Profile of the Lukewarm" that Francis Chan lays out in Chapter Four of Crazy Love.
"The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don't swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. That's for the 'radicals' who are 'unbalanced' and who go 'overboard'. Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering."
In that last sentence, I think you could also replace "suffering" with "sacrifice". It seems like it is much more popular these days to talk about how much God wants to bless us, rather than to talk about the things that He is asking us to give up.
I've had a few conversations lately and it's amazing how tense a conversation can get the minute you start talking about "radical" Christian living. Topics like sharing your home with others, serving the poor, not destroying your body (aka "God's temple") with toxic chemicals found in processed foods and our everyday household products, not destroying God's creation with our overuse of packaging and disposable items, looking into whether or not some of my American conveniences are made possible by the overworked and underpaid in third world countries? Yeah, talking about those kinds of things will get you some weird looks and will make some people really defensive. And trust me, getting into debates over Scripture on these topics are not my intent. But I'm allowed to wonder and to ask questions...right?
I'm just tired of being too safe and comfortable in my Christian walk, because the Jesus that I read about in the Gospels was not safe, nor was His message one of a comfortable lifestyle. In fact, some of Jesus' teachings were so hard that many disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. (John 6:60-66)
Derek Webb talks about this on his album called "The House Show". My paraphrase...Often we try to make it our job to make the Gospel easier for us to preach, and easier for other people to hear, in order to not get into trouble, in order to not be confrontational. But you just can't preach the Gospel and not get into trouble, because the cross is both beautiful and offensive, and it must be both. So if we seek to dress it up, or neuter the Gospel, robbing it of it's great offense and therefore it's great beauty, we are not doing anyone any favors. It is not safe to boldly preach the Gospel. This Gospel that we are told will literally set mother against daughter, son against father, not bringing peace but a sword. Dangerous work that we're in as believers, not safe work. Safe is not a word that should characterize Christians, Jesus, or the Gospel, if it is, then it might not be the Gospel that we are preaching.
He goes on to talk about Aslan the lion who is the Christ-figure in C.S Lewis's "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". The children go into town to inquire because they are frightened by the sight of Aslan the lion. They ask if he is safe. The response that the children receive is not, "Yes, he's safe. In fact, he's safe for the whole family." :) The response is "No, no he's not safe. But he is good and he's the king."
Jesus is not safe. He is not manageable. He's a wild lion. You can not tame Him. He is not safe. But He is good. And He is King. And you can trust Him. You can trust that He will provide for you what you need as you go out an you seek to tell people about Him.
The Gospel that we carry is not safe. It is not manageable. It is not efficient. Loving people is not efficient. The Gospel is not safe, but it is good, and it is true.
Remember how I said that God was replacing my version of what a godly woman looks like with His much more beautiful and complex picture. Well, let me tell you, she is a dangerous woman.
I'll explain what that means tomorrow...
In the meantime, I encourage you to think about your life. Are there areas where you have grown too comfortable? Is there nothing that you really need to trust God for right now?
To quote Francis Chan once again...
"Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens - they have their savings account. They don't need God to help them - they have a retirement plan in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live - they have life figured and mapped out. They don't depend on God on a daily basis - their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God."
If this is you, as it is me, I invite you to take a walk on the wild side.