When I was in my twenties, I was a super-Christian. I really was.
Not only did I live in the inner city, serving as the president of the board for my local Christian community development organization; not only did I recycle, using a complex system to sort all my trash; not only did I volunteer at my local pregnancy care center, even taking the midnight shift for the hot line; not only did I regularly deliver food to the homebound—I did all this because I was excited to be used by the Lord. (I was also a mother and wife, I had a job, and I was very involved in my church. Looking back, I have no idea how I managed all of that, but maybe this is a clue: I watched TV once, and was overwhelmed with guilt for wasting that half hour.)
Now that I’m an o-o-o-l-l-l-d lady (turning 40 next year!), I feel like a mediocre Christian. (And I have no problem with watching TV occasionally.)
Okay, it’s true that I have grown much deeper in my relationship with the Lord—oh, I love him; but when I hear a passionate voice to live like the Acts 2 Christians—knowing that I once voiced that passion—I wonder if I’ve lost the drive for radical obedience.
I was thinking about this while studying Francis Chan’s powerful book Crazy Love with some women from my church. Mr. Chan was challenging us to make an Act 2 commitment to each other, and we all squirmed. But as I sat there looking at each of these women that I love so much, knowing their stories and idiosyncrasies and passions, I realized that I AM already doing that.
I AM fully committed to them. We may not live in the same home, but we do live our lives together, with the church as the center of our community. We may not sell ALL our possessions, but give up our money beyond what is reasonable (not only our tithes, but our giving for missions and for special projects, our donation of cash and items to run various outreach programs or to minister to someone over lunch or to fill a food basket); we give up many hours of our time each week; we hang out with people who don’t always fit our idea of enjoyable—and we do all this so we can grow in our faith, so we can help others grow in their faith, to care for those in need, and to draw others to Jesus.
I was stunned to realize that those of us who are deeply committed to the church are doing exactly what the Act 2 Christians did.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
This epiphany both encouraged me and convicted me. The church today is the place where we really can live out our radical obedience—even when we’re no longer young and tireless. However, we may have to shift our thinking about what the church is. It’s not a place to consume, but a place to give. Rather than resisting membership to one church so we can get full benefits from various locations—attending the services here, the children’s program there, the women’s Bible study somewhere else—we might consider fully committing ourselves to one imperfect body of believers with glad and sincere hearts.
By the way, there is no such thing as a super-Christian, or a mediocre Christian—or even a lousy Christian. We can’t earn a gold star from Jesus, but we can each accept by grace the beautiful title: child of God. Now that gets me fired up!Leave a Comment