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.