Sunday, August 7, 2011
A few months ago I was out with a guy and he jokingly accused me of being a "boring Christian." We were out at a restaurant and I wasn't drinking. We had also just finished talking about my church attendance 3x/week, how many bible classes I took in college and the fact that I don't kiss boys unless it's serious. I quickly tried to defend myself (failing miserably of course), saying something to the effect of "Hey, now! I'm edgy... Remember that time I played a swear word in our Words With Friends game?"
The time we were out before that, said boy and I talked about our friends from college and what they were doing now. I went to a Christian school in Texas and he did his graduate work at a seminary in Georgia. I have good friends who are missionaries in Russia and another who is making plans to move to China and he has friends who are missionaries in Kenya, Uganda and Thailand. I told him how most of my friends had this adventurous missional pattern. My college friends spent their summers traveling the globe to preach the Gospel. They taught English in Japan, they translated the Bible in Papua New Guinea, they worked with orphans in China, they built sustainable irrigation systems in Zambia, and put on summer camps for teens in Germany. While they were out globetrotting, I was always finding a way to come home to New Orleans. His friends have somewhat similar stories. I went on to tell him how completely content I am with living and serving in New Orleans. I also told him that I sometimes felt jealous of my adventurous friends, and that I was worried that I hadn't explored "God's calling" for my life enough because I seem to lack that adventure bug everyone else seems to have gotten. And that's when he said something quite profound. He said "I see what you're saying and Shannon, but isn't the real call to do something radical? Radical discipleship doesn't always mean adventure tourism. I've barely scratched the surface with you, but I'd say you're a pretty radical chick." I of course laughed and retorted "Why? Cause I played a swear in Words With Friends?" He quickly corrected me and said "No silly. Cause you do your best to make time for God and the things that are important to Him." Then he threw pieces of bread at me. Apparently, dates are always good times to throw food at the girl you like. Its unfortunate that the boy turned out to be a creep on date number 3. The first 2 outings were so promising... but I digress.
In 1 Thess 4 is says that our ambition should be to live a quiet life. I don't always appreciate that sentiment. Sometimes I find myself searching for spiritually glamorous tasks. I'm not sure how exactly to describe it, but it seems that Satan is always trying to sell me a lie (and I'm usually buying it...) that satisfaction is just around the corner. If I only had that job, or a boyfriend, or more money, or if the bible study I lead was just a little more successful, or if I just convinced one more person to be baptized, or if I just went to share the Gospel in an exotic place, etc. etc. then I would finally feel fulfilled.
And then I look at the life of Jesus, a man who's example of humility sets the stage for how I should live. I don't need an impressively spiritual facebook status to follow Jesus. Discipleship is sometimes exhilarating, refreshing and new. But it's also often ugly, messy and painful. Sometimes faithful service leads us to mundane obedience. I don't think my globetrotting friends were doing anything wrong by any means. I admire their passion to serve in a unique way, I'm just realizing that in my search for meaning, answering God's call doesn't have to be something big and exciting. Sometimes, doing something radical means finding a way to live a quiet life.