Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Grace of Radical Ordinariness

There has been much discussion in the evangelical world about the call to radical discipleship. Perhaps it began with Matthew Lee Anderson’s corrective to books by men like David Platt, Francis Chan, and others. I thought Matt’s piece was very helpful. On other hand, I have also been encouraged by the books and movements Anderson sought to correct. David Platt and Francis Chan and others are right in pushing the American church from it’s lethargy, of echoing Jesus call to radical discipleship. 
Where the conversation, I think, is unhelpful is when it devolved into a sort of mockery of some of the radical message. I felt Anthony Bradley’s piece in World was unfair and, at times, snarky and dismissive of genuine attempts at Christian faithfulness. I also disliked Erick Erickson’s piece, which demonstrated a sort of dismissive, broad-brush approach to Christian’s answer the call to go serve Christ in hard places. 
The problem, sometimes, with our discussions and our movements is that we embrace some wild, reactionary pendulum swings. I’m disturbed by this. I think it reflects our inability to embrace tension. The Scriptures are full of seemingly competing ideas that are not meant to be resolved or “won.” They are meant to be embraced as they are. One of these is the two, side-by-side ideas that form the basis of the “Radical” conversation. 
On the one hand, Jesus calls us to sacrificial, out-of-the-ordinary, commitment to His call. He calls us to suffer and to die. He calls us to give up what is precious. He calls us to be his emissaries to the hard and difficult places of the world, to permeate all corners of the globe with His love. 
And yet, we are called to a sort of ordinariness. A sort of faithful, anonymous regular living. We are to fulfill our unique vocations, based on the set of talents, gifts, and opportunities He has given us. We’re called not simply to be pastors or missionaries in far-flung places, we’re called to faithful living at home, in ordinary vocations, because the actual work we produce honors God as the Creator. We reflect him when we do good work. 
These two realities do not have to compete. So why do they? 
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