Everyday Mission Part 4June 2, 2014
People should think we’re legitimately crazy.
Paul tells Christians in Corinth, “if in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied . . . But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”. We do have hope, joy, and purpose beyond this life only, because of Jesus’ resurrection. If that hope is real to us, then the way we live, the things we spend money on, the choices we make, and everything we do looks different than those in our mission field. When people look at our daily lives, and see things like generosity in relative poverty, joy in the midst of pain, the way we forgive and show grace—to even the hardest people in our lives, they shouldn’t just see us as a little different from themselves. Instead, Paul is teaching that we should live in a way that makes folks wonder if we’ve got a few screws loose. They should see such a massive difference that they may even pity us, because they don’t get the seemingly-illogical, erratic decisions we make. Because of Jesus’ work in us, our lives, choices, and decisions are marked by gospel abnormality.
Abnormal Displays of Our Faith
What are some abnormal ways we can live? Bob and I know people whose children qualified for scholarships at the finest private school across town, but instead chose to enroll in their neighborhood’s public school. They spent time discipling their children through their homework, taking responsibility for their kids’ learning, because they realized there was no better way to meet their neighborhood than to walk to the same school, join the same PTA, and go to the same events as them. We know folks who sold massive homes, took the tax hit and bought a smaller home in a rough part of town, to live among those to whom they were called on mission. We know folks who make double the amount of food they need for dinner each night, because their door is always open, and the family never knows exactly how many neighbors and friends will to show up to eat. Adopting, reunifying, and fostering orphans are some of the best reflections of the gospel we can see today—but it goes against cultural norms to bring non-biological people into our families, especially doing so with a God-and-child-focused mindset, instead of a selfish or trendy one.
Peter gives a few more glimpses into lives of gospel abnormality. After explaining our right motives in the first 1.5 chapters, 1 Peter shows in today’s verses how that abnormality plays out in everyday ways. Our view of—and even submission to—human authority looks different from the world around us, because we see God as sovereign. So the way we speak about our national leadership, school policies, or parents should reflect a trust in something deeper. Our marriages look different, because it reflects a deeper covenant. So we commit to a beauty deeper than physical, and we respect, forgive, and show grace to each other, by a power not our own. We suffer differently. God’s people found joy in persecution, so surely a stubbed toe or frustrated boss shouldn’t ruin our day.
A Visible Life and Faith
Before he starts into examples above of this strange life we live, here are the final words of the foundation Peter builds: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation”.
Peter’s reason for living out our faith in the midst of not-yet-believers echo Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “. . . they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” On one hand, if we hide in our Christian castle, people can’t see our lives and glorify God because they can’t see our lives, period. We must put down the drawbridge and live out our faith in public. On the other hand, if in our decisions, choices, actions, and very lives people can see no discernible difference that Jesus has made in us, versus the lives of others—people can’t see our lives and glorify God because our lives and deeds aren’t proclaiming the glory of God.
Everyday mission happens when our goals, time, resources, decisions, and day-to-day lives functionally proclaim what we mentally affirm. When can people see the great change God makes in us, and when can they and we glorify God in it? Often, it happens in the natural, spontaneous moments of daily life. That’s what we look at tomorrow. But today’s answer is that those natural, spontaneous moments of gospel display happen in the midst of such a unique, abnormal lifestyle, that there is no way to explain it other than the massive change God has made in us.