Every now and then something happens that throws my Christianity into perspective and helps me see it through different eyes.
Here’s a confession: despite the fact that I literally believe in a Savior who rose from the dead to redeem us and in a virgin birth and in the Holy Trinity, Christianity has always felt sort of staid and calm and traditional to me as far as religions go. It’s funny to even write that down, but it’s true. Other religions have always seemed far more strange and exotic to me, perhaps because they’re so unfamiliar to my daily experience.
Christianity, on the other hand, I’ve lived with and around since I was young. I accepted Christ as a child. And though I recognize the miraculous and the impossible-made-possible within my relationship with Jesus, that miraculous and impossible is a part of my everyday ordinary and therefore easy to take for granted. Concepts like “talking to God” and “worshiping the risen Savior” have grown to be as fundamental a part of my life as washing the dishes, and sometimes just about as glamorous.
Yesterday, on the cusp of a major decision, someone confessed to me how unusual it was for them to hear me talk about “consulting God” prior to making decisions. That person is a Christian now and has been for a long time, but they didn’t grow up with the faith, and so the practice of bringing major decisions to God for reflection and feedback still seems a little foreign and strange to them.
For me, it’s pretty normal. I grew up in a family and with friends that brought every major decision to God: we prayed before we purchased cars or selected colleges or chose boyfriends. It feels disconcerting and thoughtless to me not to ask God what He thinks. It’s not necessarily that I feel God has a particular opinion on everything I bring to Him (although sometimes I know He will), and it’s not like I always expect Him to give me a cosmic thumbs up or thumbs down (although I often dearly wish He would). Rather, it’s my effort to a) acknowledge God as the first arbiter of my life, b) give Him a chance to speak to me about whatever I am deciding, and c) reflect for myself on what He wants me to do and who He wants me to be as I make my choices.
But when I saw it through the eyes of the person I was speaking to, I realized how absolutely wild even that small act must seem. In a secular world where most decisions are made based on a combo of pro and con lists, feedback from trusted experts, and gut instinct or common sense, saying you’re going to go ask God what He thinks strikes about the same note as telling someone you’re off to go consult the oracle at Delphi. It’s a wonderfully faith-based act and it must seem so delightfully absurd to someone who doesn’t share a faith-based perspective.
It makes me think of Paul’s testimony before Agrippa in Acts 26. Paul is at the crescendo of his own testimony, relating his own spiritual transformation and his acknowledgement of Christ’s suffering and resurrection, when Festus interrupts:
“You are out of your mind, Paul!” Festus shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
Paul reassures him – but as he does, his eyes are not on Festus, but Agrippa. Listen to what he says:
“I am not insane, most excellent Festus. What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
What is madness to Festus is life and truth to Paul. What is absurd to others is his everyday ordinary. And it’s because the extraordinary is ordinary for Paul that he is empowered to reach out like he does to others. It’s the business of Christ to make the miraculous commonplace: indeed, Christ was the miraculous made commonplace.
And it’s such a joy, to think of my spiritual walk that way. To think that yes, it does feel ordinary and everyday to talk to the Creator of the entire world, to consult God about decisions, to acknowledge a risen Savior when those things are entirely strange and wondrous and absolutely bewildering to anyone who cannot properly understand them. These things are commonplace because God has allowed them to be so, and every aspect of my faith that feels regular or ordinary to me has come about by a great and significant miracle.
So when you’re going about your regular Christian life today and doing those ordinary things that you always do – you know, like talking to the Divine Creator of All or worshiping a Savior who came back from the dead or even asking God about a course of action – take a minute to appreciate how ordinary and how miraculous that is all at the same time, or rather how ordinary the miraculous has become. Realize that every day we are walking in rarified air, and it’s only because we’re so accustomed to breathing it that we’ve lost our amazement that we can breathe at all.
It’s not madness to us. It is true, and reasonable…and sometimes even a little ordinary.
But to the world, it’s strange indeed.