More Than Ordinary
When you examine your current lifestyle and circumstances, do not simply ask yourself the question, “Can God use me here?” Ask, “How can I position myself to allow God to use me to the absolute max for his glory and his purpose?” The answer to the first question will always be yes; God can use you in any situation. The answer to the second question, however, may require you to realign your life. I began wrestling with the second question a few years ago when God would no longer let me be satisfied with occasional participation in His eternal purpose. I would say my life was 100% for Jesus, but a lot of people say that. It’s the Christian thing to say. But how could that become a reality?
God’s purposes are extremely urgent and call for much more than even the best intentions of a casual life. Unfortunately, many of us are content with living the casual Christian life in which we have a successful career, find a godly spouse, have a good family, go to a good church, have a good retirement, die and go to heaven. Rinse and repeat for your children and grandchildren. Do not misunderstand – these things are gifts from God, but God wants to use you for far more!
The disconnect between a casual life and a life of seeking God’s kingdom first created a tension in my heart and mind that I could not escape. While I was in college, I mentioned this “tension” to a few of my peers and was met with a variety of responses. Many agreed with my assessment that we need to change, but many others attempted to rationalize the thoughts I was having by reminding me of the validity and importance of the ordinary things in life. I am in complete agreement that we must first be faithful in the ordinary things. In fact, scripture says to not despise the day of small things. But why would we want to settle for only ordinary? Is our vision so small? Why not aim higher? I was told several times, “Just because what you are doing doesn’t seem like it is having a big impact on God’s kingdom doesn’t mean that it isn’t.” As wonderful as that quote would look in a social media post or framed on the wall, it truly only helps us grow complacent. I think it could be more accurately worded in this way: Just because you want to think you are impacting God’s kingdom does not mean that you are.
We are often too easily satisfied with the small things. We are fine with simply “making a difference” or making someone smile in the midst of everyday life, when God has so much more for us in Christ! Jesus said in John 14:12 that “…whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” At the beginning of that sentence he even says, “Very truly I tell you…”, so do we think he meant that?
This promise began to play out in the book of Acts when God used the first believers to launch a movement of disciples making disciples. If we are honest, our lives usually do not look anything like Acts. Most believers I know would openly admit this. Unfortunately, most of us are also just fine with that because we do not grasp all that God wants to accomplish through us if we would let Him. We assume that what happened in the book of Acts is not for us, so we justify ourselves instead of realigning our lives. We come up with reasons why it’s different. We exaggerate the impact of the little things we do so that we feel more in line with what we see in scripture. Instead of encouraging all believers to aim higher, we encourage believers that the accomplishments of their low aim have a much greater impact than they actually do.
It’s almost like we are afraid of what “seek first the kingdom of God” might really cost us, so we are willing to stay in the ordinary as long as we can rationalize it. It can be easy to rationalize how our own reality and experience agrees with scripture rather than to adjust our reality to truly be in line with God’s Word. We see the disconnect between our lives and scripture: Paul started multiplying churches. Philip preached the gospel to many towns and villages. The believers went from house to house focusing on the mission of proclaiming the good news and making disciples. “Sure,” we say, “But don’t discount the impact you can have by just going to work, going to church, and being faithful in the ordinary things.” This exaggeration of our impact helps us justify putting a cap on what we’ll allow God to do through us. It gives us room to go on living “business as usual” because we imagine we can have just as much of an eternal impact without any real sacrifice. Do we want to live our lives chasing after hypothetical eternal impact, or do we want to intentionally reorient our lives around the purpose of God?
I want to be clear that I am not advocating that we should neglect the small things in life. They are impactful and should be stewarded well for the glory of God. The issue is when we use the little things as an excuse for not stepping into bigger things. We limit our vision by thinking faithfulness in the ordinary somehow exempts us from anything beyond that.
When there are millions lost and perishing in our city, how can the extent of our vision be to simply serve in the church or be a light in the workplace without mentioning Christ? Why would the extent of our vision even be to just lead one person to faith? God wants to do so much more! We sell ourselves short in thinking we are not called to anything marvelous. We may define our everyday lives as our “mission fields”, but there is no real mission going on. We are content to feed 5 when Jesus wants to feed 5,000. When God’s glory is at stake, we must set our sights higher. We need to start asking, “What is it going to take to see God’s purpose accomplished in the world? How do I join in that?” That is how we position ourselves to be used by God to the max.