Friday, August 14, 2009

Average or Radical?

Average-a ratio expressing the average performance especially of an athletic team or an athlete computed according to the number of opportunities for successful performance; central tendency of a data set is a measure of the "middle" or "expected" value of the data set.
Norm- means the average of performance of a significantly large group, class, or grade.

Have you ever stopped to think about how we want to just live a normal life? I have heard many times, "I am just the average American guy living the average American life". What does the average life look like? Do I really want to be in the middle of the way Americans live their lives?

In the definitions the phrase "according to a number of opportunities" jumped off the page at me. In life, I only get one opportunity at it; I only get one chance at life to see if I can not be the average American living the average American life. It's not like a batting average that I get to take 500 at bats and then see how I did; I get one "at bat". I don't want to be the average American, or even the average Christian in America.

I am not particularly tall, smart, good looking, wealthy, athletic or anything else above average. I am the average person when people look at me. But what about Christianity? Could I have an above average Christian life?

When I look around at how Christians are living today, and without being judgmental, and I see how most are living, I think "I want to have more than that", "I want to live for Christ way more than that". I think God is telling us there is way more than average if we follow Him like the disciples did. Matt. 13:44"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

This man was living the average life and THEN he found something that caused him to stop and think, "This is what I have been searching for my entire life and this will change the way I live". After he bought the treasure do you think he went back to living his life the way that he did before he found it? No way. His life totally changed. He could do everything he wanted to before but he never had the resources to do it. He had so many limitations before because he was average; now he was NOT average.

Radical- marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional, existing in a very high degree or going to great or exaggerated lengths.

In these definitions what jumps out at me is existing in a very high degree. Existing, or living, in a very high degree. The man who found the treasure never looked back at his old way of life and said, "I wish I could live like I used to live; like everyone else lives". He didn't want to be normal or average again. He wanted to exist to a very high degree.

Isn't this what God is calling us to? Doesn't He want us to live radical, sold out, on the extreme end or to exaggerated lengths? When Jesus called the disciples, He didn't call them away from their normal lives to go and live a normal life someplace else, He called them to be the antithesis of normal; radical. They were "average Jews, with average houses and 8.5 kids with 200 sheep and went to the average synagogue". Jesus called them away from that. He called them to live like no one else lived; to be different.

Do you think that their friends and families understood what they had found? Do you think that some of them, most of them, thought that they were crazy for leaving the life that they had built for themselves and follow some carpenter's Son? "Really, you are leaving all you have here to follow that guy?"

Maybe in the end the others figured out that the disciples really had chosen the best way, but maybe not. BUT in the end, the disciples knew for sure that they had found the Treasure and that in leaving "normal" they received radical and it was totally worth the trade. At the end of their lives would they have traded in martyrdom for a normal life? NO WAY. Do you think they thought that they had sacrificed some precious thing to follow Jesus once they had really figured out what they had found? Once they figured out how much the Treasure was really worth do you think they were trying to return it?

They had traded in smelly fishing boat, nets that were always needing to be fixed, cold night and hot days in a boat that leaked all the time, fish guts and worries about whether they would be able to catch enough to feed and provide for their families, for being fishers of men.

Sure there were times they couldn't figure out what Jesus was trying to tell them; times that they got out of the boat and then freaked out; times when they had no food and they had to watch Jesus make food for thousands out of the lunch of some kid, but in the end they got it. In the end they could really see that this was no short changing on Jesus' part; they got the good end of the deal and way more. They traded in a bucket of rotten fish guts for getting to be with the Son of God and watch Him change dead people to people who are now alive.

There is no way they would trade that back in. They were like us; sinners, proud, slow to understand, selfish, small in faith, argumentative and that was just Peter. But they were normal, average people whom God called away from their average lives to live radically changed lives. Didn't He do the same for us? Did He call us to follow Him and live like everyone else around us, even the world? Or did He call us out of the world to live transformed lives; lives that look very different, in an amazing way, from the world?

Did He call us to be so different that when we have trials we are joyful in them? That is not average. It is not average for us to welcome persecution, because we know that when we follow Christ there will be persecution, or we're not following Christ. He called us to love our enemies and pray for them. That is not normal or average. He called us to be last when everyone else is trying to be first. He called us to look out for the interests of others and not to worry about what we have. Is that normal?

So, how are you going to live? Have you found the Treasure, or the Pearl of great price, and now are you going to try to go back and live like you are the same as everyone else; to blend in? How can we neglect so great a salvation; to receive so great a salvation and then just go back and try to live normal? God sent His only Son, to live here on earth, away from His loving Father, to suffer at the hands of His creation, and then to be murdered on a cross. He did that so that we might have life, but not just average life, but life more abundantly. He didn't do all that so we could act like we have sacrificed everything to gain Him, He did it so we could accept His free gift that is so much better than we deserve and then be excited to tell others about it. "We have found the treasure you have been looking for".

How can we live average when our great God is so much above average and He has adopted us as sons? Do you really want to live average?

Sorry for the long post; I guess I'm a little excited about this. Have a great day living radically for God.

1 comment:

Ryan Hall said...

Thanks for the post Chuck.

I do think there is a different way of living Pastor Z says, "the way of Jesus is not the way of the world".

Are we living it! I am not there yet, but God is working on my heart. I don't want to waste this life living a average or normal I seek God in this different way of living I hope that is different then the norm we see today.

Go hard or go home....May we have radical love for others while living a radical life for God!

I can't wait for tonight....see ya soon, Lord willing!