Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Extraordinary Living

The last thing any of us want to do is lead an ordinary life. Perhaps to some people our dreams may look ordinary but to us our dreams take us out of ourselves. The last thing we want is to live someone else's life and end up looking like just another face in the crowd. Deep down we want to be different, unique, special to someone. We want our life to matter to someone. We do not want to end up in a life that has no purpose and no meaning. Now, what a special life with purposing and meaning looks like is different for each person but the important thing is that we are never considered ordinary.

Perhaps you disagree with me and an ordinary life would be perfectly acceptable to you. Well my believing friend, all I can say is that you must not have met Jesus yet. After meeting him there is no way that any of us could accept an ordinary life. Jesus is not a story of a good man from ages past. He is not an ideology that makes our life a little easier to handle. He is not a moral compass to keep our society civil. He is not a collection of sayings like Buddha and Confucius. He is not an ideal that we live towards. Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, God with us. He is the Word of God made flesh. He is the Son who obeyed his Father and died so that we may live. He is the Resurrection, the first born of many to come. He is all this and so much more and he has told us that we would do greater things than he did when he walked our planet. So what is the problem with us?

The problem is that we don't believe; we don't have faith; we don't trust the Promise Maker. Even people who did not know who Jesus was but saw what he did, had greater faith than what we who know him have today. Consider the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. This was her thought:

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed." (Matthew 9:20-21)

The woman did not fully understand, all she knew was that this man was doing incredible things. She did not realize all she had to do was ask, thinking it was a matter of touching him. But method did not matter to Jesus, all that mattered was faith. Faith was a thing that was lacking in that day because they had a huge tradition based on the priesthood, sacrifices and living a list of rules, albeit a long list of rules. Faith was not needed in such a culture of "doing it myself", not unlike our "self help" culture of today. This is the reason Jesus often used the phrase, "Oh you of little faith", and why he applauded those who demonstrated real faith like this woman. Look at the result of this woman's faith in Jesus:

Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment. (Matthew 9:22)

As simple as that; she had faith, acted upon that faith and received the healing she sought. She rose above the ordinary in that moment. I am sure that Jesus was being pressed upon by the crowd, many of them would have had needs, but only this woman acted upon what she believed in her heart. Just like the blind man who wouldn't shut up and kept calling out through the crowd. Just like the man who sought Jesus' help because his daughter was dying. Just like the different Gentiles who had insisted on Jesus' help. All of them demonstrating an insistent faith. The real question for us is, do we believe enough to have this same faith?

Extraordinary living does not happen when you are willing to be part of the crowd, when you decide to never allow your faith to become any greater than the people around you. We know some things about the God we worship. First, he is incredibly powerful. Second, he exudes love because he is the very definition of love. Third, he has called us out of an ordinary life, enslaved to sin, through the sacrifice of Jesus and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Fourth, his desire is to see every single person saved from the disastrous death they are heading toward. Fifth, he has called us to partner with him in this mission of saving this world from this disastrous death. There is no way he has called us to an ordinary life when he has filled us with the resurrection power and told us to live a life of faith in the Spirit.

I am not saying we have been raised up to live a super star's life or to be rich or to be anything that has any direct bearing on our own comfort. We have been called as his servant's to live a life that demonstrates trust and faith in him. He has called us to no ordinary life of love, where we have faith to love our enemies and forgive those who come against us. He has called us to a life where he works miracles through us in the lives of other people. He has called us as his representatives in this dying world and there is no way we can represent the Creator of all things by living an ordinary life.

What does an extraordinary life in Jesus Christ look like? One that is filled with, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control". This cannot be produced in an ordinary life. This can only be produced by the Spirit in us when we have given up everything of ourselves to follow Jesus. And this is only possible when we are willing to believe and show that same amount of faith as this suffering woman.This kind of faith is only possible when we realize that we cannot help ourselves, that we are desperate for Jesus and we allow that faith to take action. Then we will begin to believe in the impossible and then we will see the impossible happen. It only happens in an absolutely surrendered life where we lose the phrase, "I can't" and "It's impossible" and we step into, "Jesus can" and "Everything is possible for him who believes".

Go ahead, rise up into the extraordinary life you have been called to.


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