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Friday, February 17, 2012

Dirty Feet and the Radical Business of Living a Normal Life



I am inching my way, highlighter in hand, through the book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by Dr. David Platt, the rare mega-church pastor who inspires members to downsize their living spaces, simplify their lifestyles and think globally about having an impact in the world.


Of the truth-nuggets contained in these page, here is one that I'm pondering this morning, in my own words (from pages 88-89):

As Jesus is nearing the end of his life on earth, he tells the Father, "I have finished the work that you gave me to do here." Then he goes on to summarize that work (John 17).

Now, one would expect Jesus to report, "I led a massive healthcare reform (healed the sick), I fed thousands with very little resources, and I revolutionized the way people think about women, children, and minority groups. I turned the religious institution on its head and defined social justice. I inaugurated a Kingdom that will divide history in half and demonstrated the way to live successfully human. Oh, and I raised the dead."

At least, that's how I would have summarized my accomplishments if I were Jesus.

But what did He actually say?

"I took care of the twelve guys you gave me, except one of them has left for good." I wonder if he was thinking,  The rest will desert me soon, too. 

As Platt puts it, Jesus "staked everything on his relationships with twelve men....(They) were the small group responsible for carrying on everything Jesus had begun."

In other words, Jesus was focused.

I wonder if being "Radical" has more to do with that than being all over the place, getting a lot of good things done while ignoring the very thing I am meant to do--the thing with which I can most impact the world.

I wonder if "Radical" is more related to "Normal" and "Ordinary" than I ever dreamed.

Where would Christianity be if Jesus had not focused most of his time on twelve ordinary men? It was they who "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6). Up until then, there was nothing immediately gratifying about training fishermen with tempers and thick skulls. There was no employer review or mountain of feedback for all Jesus endured with these guys--sleeping in the woods, dodging sea-storms, eating at strangers' tables, breaking up immature quarrels and snuffing out little fires of religious zeal.

Yet at the end of a day of miracles, it was this circle of ragtag men Jesus sailed away from the crowds with. They were the ones around the breakfast fire on the beach, learning that life is about feeding sheep. They were the ones getting their feet washed by God in a dimly lit room with only the sound of dirty water dripping from his hands.

I have ideas. A lot of good ideas--wild, insanely great ideas. I'd love to blog about my (now not-so) secret semi-conversion to freeganism. I'd like to share with you uncommon adventures via photo-journaling that would potentially make you think I am (even more) crazy (than you already thought). What fun! There are articles that need to be written and more things I want to say to the world. And maybe I will.

I can really get myself all over the place and not have made one speck of lasting difference. If I had a minute of true focus for every hour I throw away doing good things, contemplating nice ideas and relishing the instant gratification (feedback) I get from writing what is not quite as important or not for me right now--I'd have already published sixty books.

Meanwhile, Reality beckons and Radical calls: I have my own little group of disciples. Their names are Anna, Sarah, Rebecca and Ruth. What if I am to change the world through one or all of them? What if, while I sit here dreaming, a bonfire turns to dying embers--the one I'm supposed to gather around, with these few, and teach them how to feed more sheep? 

What if those small feet outgrow the opportunity for washing, while I strive for lesser opportunities amid the ring of applause?

What if "Radical" was right here at my side--and at my fingertips--all along, and all I needed to do was finally see it? Stop looking for it and focus?

Where is the place I need to stay--the one thing I need to write (read: finish manuscriptS)?

Where can I have the most impact?

Who are the people I most need to invest in, in order to radically change the world?































4 comments:

Jean Oathout said...

Excellent post! What a good challenge you've given all of us. Thank you for setting us straight as to what's important for us to focus on. I trust my efforts on my blog to give "Messages of Faith for You" will encourage many to realize that God is Real and near us!

Faith Bogdan said...

Thanks for stopping by, fellow blogger Jean! :)

Cynthia said...

I like it. The thought of radical that average folks like me can live out. Thanks for sharing, Faith!

Adrian Waller said...

I read an interesting though somewhere on the interwebs this week that seems to reflect what you were saying here: "What we often call 'radical' faith is what Jesus would have called 'normal.'"