Pursue The Unremarkable Life

Christianity is all about the concept of world-changing impact right now.

It’s a trend.  Every speaker, every author, every pastor wants you to be a world-changer for Jesus.  It’s what I call the “if only” theory.  If only you loved the way God loved, you’d have revolutionized your entire neighborhood and your workplace by now.  If only you had the faith that God asks of you, then you’d go do that Big Awesome Thing that you said you never had the time strength or energy to do.  If only you took off your spiritual blinders, miracles of all sorts would be happening up and down the street every time you reached out in the name of Christ.

You are called, everyone says, to great things.  Big things.  Huge things.  Life-changing, earth-shattering, paradigm-shifting amazing things.  All in the name of the Savior Jesus Christ.

And…sure.  I mean, I guess.  It’s possible that you have been.  Some people certainly are.  God needs, sometimes, to do big huge things and he needs dreamers-with-a-capital-D to get them going.

But have you ever noticed that very few people want to talk about being called to an ordinary, unremarkable life?

In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul urges believers to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you…” (11).  And then, in 1 Corinthians 4: 12, he reminds believers that “we work hard with our own hands.  When we are cursed, we bless.  When we are persecuted, we endure it.”  Ephesians encourages thieves to turn to lives of honest labor (4:28).  And Titus tells believers to live productive lives (3:14).

Day laborers.  Regular Joes.  People who lived wherever God had put them, getting through the business of life day after day.  They revolutionized their communities and the world not by throwing away their lives to become itinerant preachers, not by beginning flashy new branded ministries, not by standing up one day and promising to be a radical for Jesus, but simply by living honestly in a Christlike way.

They paid their workers fairly and generously, or worked hard for their employers.  They helped provide to the needy in their community.  They showed up.  They cared for their families and others’ families.  They did their best at whatever their work happened to be.  They took care of their own.  They endured hardships cheerfully and without complaint.  They lived ordinary, regular, run of the mill lives salted and seasoned by the grace of Christ.

But that’s not glamorous.  It doesn’t seem shocking or passionate or radical enough.  And I think in the church there is the growing temptation to feel that unless you’re going out on some kind of limb for Jesus, nothing you’re doing is worth doing.  That unless you’ve come up with the big dream, the crazy spiritual goal, you’re denying the reality of what Christ has called you to do.

But that’s not true.

I write this as a capital-D dreamer.  I write this as someone who feels deeply that there is a plan in my life that God has not yet unveiled in its entirety. And I do believe that we are all of us called to bigger things by God than we can imagine.  But it’s important to snap a frame on what “bigger” means.  “Bigger” is not always a seismic spiritual event.  “Bigger” is not always you starting something new and huge.  “Bigger” is not always something you’ve never done before or considered before.  Sometimes “bigger” is ordinary and unremarkable.

The most “radical” act you can do as a Christian is to live your life loving God and loving others.  That’s it.  It really is as simple as it sounds.

You won’t get a lot of credit for it.  Nobody is going to put you on the cover of a book to talk about how you’ve revolutionized the culture.  You won’t get a spread on a fancy Christian website.  And you might feel pretty ordinary and…well, boring.

That’s okay.  Living the ordinary life as a transformed believer may be the most influential and spiritually important thing you ever do.  Embrace it.

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