My dear friend and mentor, Marla, mentioned reading this book, and because I like to live on the edge, I joined the read-along over on her blog. We are one week into this thing, and already it's been a wild ride leaving me all sorts of rattled and jumbled.
Not exactly the feel-good book of the year.
And though my heart is SO not ready, Radical is exactly what my soul needs.
I am overflowing with so many thoughts and emotions and realizations, but I am far from being able to articulate most of them.
And though I fear the vulnerability that comes with putting my crap out there, stick with me as I begin to process one of those realizations that is really working its way down, down, down into a more digestible form.
David Platt, the book's author, is on a mission to take back our faith from the American dream. On page 7 he writes, "somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable."
Comfortable. Comfortable. Comfortable.
That's exactly what I am.
And that's when it hit me. Comfortable is exactly what I don't want to be but I'm so afraid to quit.
You see, in my heart, I've always had this urge to do more - something bigger - something more profound than living this cozy life in the 'burbs, surrounded by the cushions of my generous family and dear, dear friends. Even yesterday I found myself in a conversation with a friend, telling her that if my husband was up for it, I'd move to a "lesser" part of town (aka, the ghetto) as a way to reach out to a hurting community. Take it a step farther, and I'd even move to a lesser part of the world, if my husband felt called.
But I'm realizing that much of that desire has little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with me. You see, I can visualize myself in the ghetto (just a few highway exits away from my warm and hospitable extended family) opening my door to neighboring Americans who happen to have a smaller checking account balance than we do. I can even visualize myself in Africa singing Jesus Loves Me with children who look nothing like my own but still call me Ma-Ma and think I'm somethin' special because I'm from America.
But here's where it gets ugly. I'd be willing to move in the name of Jesus, to a place where nobody knows my name, but I haven't been willing to open my doors to equally "needy" folks in this sheltered and thriving community because of my own selfish motives. Sure, I've thought about it. But then satan slips in and tells me, "Why would you want to do that? They'll just think you're crazy once they really get to know you Jesus freaks, and heck, they don't need your hospitality anyhow." You see, I don't want these people who know me as "the sweet girl next door" to know me as the "Jesus freak." Because that'd be plain awkward.
And about Africa. In my cute little daydream, we're sitting in a circle, singing songs and braiding hair. It's like something you'd sail by on It's a Small World. We might stay a while, pass along a box of Bibles and leave behind a generous check, and then return to the land of greed and consumerism via an air-conditioned 747.
But if Africa was really Iran, and those cute little kids were actually men with weapons accompanied by death threats and severe persecution - Are you kidding me? Keep me the hell away from that.
But here's the radical reality. Those terrorists in Iran are just as deserving of God's Kingdom as those beautiful African babies. You see, I don't want the radical calling. I'm only cool with being called if it's cute and returns me safely to cozy.
And my have-known-me-as-the-girl-next-door-for-four-years neighbors are EXACTLY who God is calling me to love IN JESUS' NAME right now. Forget inner-city fantasies. God has me in this zip code, within these walls, at this very time. Why the heck would He call me to serve in a different community if I can't even get my stinkin' act together in the one where He currently has me? Especially when this community comes with freedom of religion?
But before I let satan tell me I suck, because trust me, I'm tempted to end this entire blog post with those two words in bold font - all caps, I am going to thank GOD for humbling me enough to realize what desperately needs to change in my life.
Comfortable. Comfortable. Comfortable.
I live in the most comfortable country in the world, and it's about darn time that I step out just a smidge in an attempt to share my Jesus.
Am I really so darn selfish as to not glorify God in my interactions with those around me? Do I really have so little faith that I don't believe God will take care of what people think when they see us pray or read the Bible or make a decision based on Godly principles as opposed to secular ones?
Thank you, Lord, for speaking directly to my heart and soul as I begin this radical journey. And help me as I take steps of faith toward you and away from me. Because my nature tells me to think of me, me, me. And then me some more.
But I know, deep in my heart and at the core of my soul, that there is so much more to be gained when I think of You. And I never ever want to quit that.
*For more reactions to Chapter One of Radical, check this out.