In my post last week I talked about how important it is to go to the Bible in order to learn what God says the life of a Christian should look like. I'm going to be honest with you here, writing a blog about conforming our lives to the truths of the Bible is much easier than living a life conformed to the truths of the Bible. When we start living according to God’s normal, it many times involves hard, counter cultural things. Perhaps deliberately living in a smaller house when everyone else is upgrading for bigger or better. Giving up your “perfect” family to take on a child with special needs. Having a large family in a world that says two is more than enough. Choosing to forgive and love people who have done nothing to deserve it.
We can look at the disciples in the Bible and applaud how they so willingly followed Jesus when he called them. But I highly doubt it was a normal or easy thing to leave your entire fishing livelihood in your boat and start following a homeless teacher around (Luke 5). So, are you willing to stand out? Are you willing to put into practice what you read in the Bible despite what people might think of you? Are you willing to follow God’s way, even if it is hard? I think we all would say yes, but the reality of living that out is hard.
On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. - 1 Thessalonians 2:4
It is all too easy to walk around and try to portray that we have it all together. For me that would mean that I have the cutest multiracial family; that foster care has been all hugs and giggles and that I never mess up, make mistakes or get impatient with my husband or kids.
But the truth is something totally different from a cute cuddly picture. Being a foster parent is HARD in so many different ways! No my kids don’t always get along, in fact, scratching each others faces has been become the weapon of choice between my daughters. Our foster daughter usually screams at the end of every meal because food is her comfort. And sometimes, we end up just having cereal for dinner because it has been one of "those days".
I think on the outside it’s easy to look at people living for God and see the heroic side of things. But if I’m honest, living our lives like the Bible says is anything but that. Please don’t misunderstand me here, I don’t say this to discourage you; I say this to encourage you. How does that make any sense? Well the truth is it’s way too easy to avoid and give up on things that are tough, messy and challenging, thinking they aren’t worth it.
Isn't it better to live a life that is comfortable and easy?
If you look at the lives of Jesus, of his disciples, or of Christians throughout the century, comfortable and easy would be the last words that come to mind. In fact, I would say just the opposite is true. Their lives were extremely challenging! But that doesn’t mean that all their sacrifices were for nothing.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. – Phillipians 3:7-9
We were created for this very purpose: for service in the Kingdom of God; for something bigger than ourselves. Although for my husband and I, conforming our lives to the Bible and stepping out in faith and living out what Jesus has called us to has been the most challenging, tiring thing we’ve ever done, it has also been the most rewarding, amazing, purpose-filling, life-giving, joy-bringing things we have ever undertaken! Life is an adventure, with twists and turns we never expected. We’ve experienced God moving in our lives so many times and feeling so near to him is the most amazing comfort!
So where are you today? Are you feeling called to step out in faith and serve God in some way, but worried what others might say/think about that choice? Are you in the middle of a messy marriage, struggling to finally put God first and feeling like it’s not making a difference? Are you mentoring someone who just seems to continue to make mistakes and backslide? Are you the one making mistakes and backsliding? Rather than fixing your eyes on the struggle, the problems, or the obstacles in front of you, fix your eyes on Jesus. He isn’t afraid of messy. He isn’t intimidated by the obstacles you face. He isn’t scared by what you bring to the table. He doesn't even care what everyone else is saying about you and what you are doing. All he wants is you; fully committed to him and willing to keep pressing on no matter how hard it gets.
While I’m not going to lie, the life of a Jesus follower does not guarantee comfortable and easy. I can guarantee that it is filled with joy, purpose and eternal rewards that will far outweigh the struggles, disapproval, judgments or questions you may get from those around you.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18