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California Christianity Thoughts

It’s not supposed to be strange

I’ve found that the ques­tion I’m always asked when peo­ple find out I’ve moved out to Sacra­men­to from Ten­nessee is, “Did you move due to your job?”

No,” I tell them, fol­lowed by some vari­ant of, “I came out here because I felt like it’s what God want­ed me to do.”

I’ll usu­al­ly then get a strange look from them.

So now I’m going to ask the ques­tion I keep won­der­ing: why is that strange?

I believe that when Jesus was giv­ing what we call the Ser­mon on the Mount (Matthew 5 — 7), he was giv­ing essen­tial­ly a guide to liv­ing in the King­dom. It’s some­thing we should let define us as dis­ci­ples. After all, chap­ter 5 starts with him see­ing the mul­ti­tude, going up and sit­ting on the moun­tain, and his dis­ci­ples gath­er­ing around him. Then he “opened his mouth and taught them”. This was a teach­ing which applied to his dis­ci­ples as much as, if not more than, the rest.

Chris­tians love to read the Bible. Which is great. But, boy, is it ever a chal­leng­ing book. Jesus says and teach­es some real­ly hard things that fly in the face of a lot of ideals we are raised with. So, instead of try­ing to shoe­horn that book into our tra­di­tions and beliefs and let our reli­gion define what we read, do we let his teach­ing define us?

The top­ic I’m think­ing about right now is in chap­ter 6. Jesus teach­es us:

  • We should do every­thing for God, and not for our own glo­ry.
  • How to pray to God, desir­ing for His will, not our own.
  • Not to store up earth­ly wealth, but heav­en­ly trea­sure. Our trea­sures act as a spir­i­tu­al anchor–where do you want to be anchored?
  • That we can’t serve two mas­ters. It’s either earth­ly gain, or God. He does­n’t say it’s dif­fi­cult, but that it’s impos­si­ble.
  • We should not wor­ry about tomor­row, but be like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.

But that seems so imprac­ti­cal!

I believe that we should be respon­si­ble peo­ple. But I also believe that my biggest respon­si­bil­i­ty is to ensure that noth­ing gets in the way of my being able to fol­low my Mas­ter. We should “ren­der to Cae­sar what is Cae­sar’s,’ but my life is God’s, and he gets first dibs.

A few weeks ago, I was dis­cussing with a friend about how rare it is to find peo­ple whose lives are built around the will of God, so that every aspect of life–where they live, where they work, where their kids go to school, etc–was a deci­sion made as a result of seek­ing first His King­dom.

The Amer­i­can cul­ture teach­es us to pur­sue the Amer­i­can Dream. But have you ever giv­en thought to how much the Amer­i­can Dream oppos­es God’s King­dom par­a­digm? I think that often the pur­suit of that Amer­i­can Dream–the indi­vid­ual ris­ing to the high­est suc­cess of which he is capa­ble, and which in our time has come to mean the safe­ty, secu­ri­ty, and inde­pen­dence of wealth indi­vid­ual self-sufficiency–that pur­suit can be such a sub­con­scious dri­ve; some­thing that’s been fed and drilled into us since child­hood.

But it’s good to take a step back often and look at our ideals com­pared to God’s.

What we’ve found is that by giv­ing our lives to God and liv­ing our lives seek­ing first His King­dom and His right­eous­ness, He real­ly does take care of the rest. It’s cer­tain­ly not an excuse for lazyness–no, it takes far more work, faith, trust, and hope than what we take for nor­mal life. But the sat­is­fac­tion and secu­ri­ty is incred­i­ble. Because you see all along the way that He’s lead­ing you, tak­ing care of you, and lov­ing you.

And accord­ing to Jesus, that’s what He expects as nor­mal life for His dis­ci­ples.

So, it’s not strange. It’s nor­mal. I feel like it’s crazy nor­mal, some­times. But I keep remind­ing myself it’s nor­mal.

3 replies on “It’s not supposed to be strange”

Wow! That was an awe­some post, David! That is a lot of what I have been feel­ing for the last 2 weeks, and read­ing your post put it into greater per­spec­tive for me and helped me define what I’ve been feel­ing. Thank you for shar­ing this. I miss you and your fam­i­ly soooo much, and I hope to see you all soon!

Yeah, its a total­ly nor­mal life…for a dis­ci­ple, which makes you won­der how many dis­ci­ples are there real­ly! One thing that feeds this is that almost no one real­izes the pro­fun­di­ty of monothe­ism. If there is only one God then he is mas­ter of all and we can’t com­part­men­tal­ize him into con­trol­ling only what we are com­fort­able with.

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