By most people’s standards, I’m a good Christian girl. I spend time with God (most mornings, bleary-eyed over my first cup of coffee), I lead a small group, I chaperone youth mission trips, I serve the poor, I pray a lot, and I gave up a respectable career and decent money to work for the church for a much smaller paycheck. That should be enough, right?
These last few months, I’ve had this nagging feeling that God expects me to give Him everything. All of it. Not just the parts I’ve neatly classified as “church stuff” and devote what I consider a significant portion of my life to doing. Not only the things that are comfortably “just beyond” my comfort zone. Not just what fits in with my plans, my budget, my cozy middle-class life. All of it — my money, my house, my time, my lifestyle, my kids, my husband, my job… even the seemingly inconsequential, day-to-day choices I make like what to wear and what to eat and what to do with that leftover couple of hours at the end of the day that I usually spend mindlessly watching Top Chef wannabes churn out braised pork belly and creamy polenta on my flat screen TV.
All of it? Really, God?
Last Sunday a guest preacher named Rickey Bolden (awesome guy — a former NFL player turned pastor) challenged our congregation to pray that line in the Lord’s prayer — “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done…” — for ourselves. He asked us to stop asking God for what we want and start asking God to make His Kingdom real in our lives. To stop making selfish choices and start living each day for Him. Then Rickey told us to stand up if we wanted to pray that prayer for the first time.
I didn’t stand up. Not because I don’t want that very thing, but because that’s the prayer I’ve been saying every day for months now. It wasn’t my first time; it was my hundredth time muttering, “God, help me get over myself. Show me how you want me to live. And give me the strength to change whatever I have to in order to follow you.”
Matthew 7:14 says, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” I always wondered how that could be true when so many churchgoers fill the pews every Sunday. There are more than “a few” of us who profess faith in Christ and perform our churchly duties on a regular basis. So maybe Jesus was talking about something more.
In that same section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that only those who do the will of His Father will enter the kingdom of heaven, and only those who hear His words and put them into practice are considered wise. So how are we as Christians doing with that? Are we focused too much on avoiding the “wrong” things rather than doing the right ones? Are we so enamored with our way of “doing church” that we think it’s the be all, end all?
I’m on a journey to figure this out. I’m asking God what it looks like to follow Him, to be on mission right where I live, and to find a new (and hopefully better) way to be His Church in this beautiful (thanks to God) mess (thanks to us) of a world we live in. Recently some friends and I started a “missional community” because it’s always better to travel together than alone.
Consider this blog a sort of “travel log” for that journey. I have a feeling many of you are on the same journey, and I’d love to compare notes. So please join me, check in from time to time, and leave a comment if something strikes a chord with you.
Grace & Peace,