Beyond the Surface

“I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what was radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.” 

― David PlattRadical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

Jesus calls us to a radically different life. Few of us comprehend the implications of the call at the beginning. The love of God simply overwhelms us. We who are satisfied drift along in the river of grace, love and mercy until our fingers and toes are all pruney. We may decide to take a break once in a while to sit along the river bank. I think most Christ followers are content to bob along the surface level satisfied with receiving all that Christ has done for them. I’ve been impressed by others, however, who have a different interpretation of what it means to follow Christ.

There is a story from Luke 21 that caught my attention a number of years ago. It’s the story of the widow who gave all she had to live on to the Temple treasury. As I first meditated on her story, I tried to imagine how old she may have been. There were many young widows during the time of Jesus because of illness, accidents and military tours. If her husband died of illness, did his illness use up all their money and did she decide to give all she had left out of desperation? What’s the point of keeping a few meaningless coins when you have nothing to live on, right?

I wondered if their marriage was an abusive one and if she gave all she had left as a freedom offering. Maybe she gave all she had to live on as a ‘freedom offering’ as she thanked God the chapter of her miserable life was over. I could imagine a dozen scenarios. I think of women from all over the world I’ve met who are widows. They are extremely resourceful and they continue to live each day as it comes. Christian widows have been curiously inspirational to me. There was a woman I met in India who had a gleam in her eye and a smile on her face that could only come from a deeply rewarding relationship with Christ. She had nothing. She lived at the mercy of other people. But what she did have was a robust belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and her savior. He provided for her daily needs. I honestly was a little envious of her faith. Simple. Deep. Real.

Could there be a more robust faith life available to us? Maybe it’s not limited to the surface where we are so contented to live. Having resources doesn’t mean we are shallow. But, our tendency as human beings is to make sure we take care of ourselves first and think of God as an after thought. Some people may believe it is our calling to take care of ourselves so that we can care for others. I propose we consider this call to follow Jesus as a radical upheaval to our common garden variety of everyday faith. Emboldened followers of Christ change the world. Even ones sitting along a roadside in India. They realize the power in giving all they have to live on to the God of more than enough. The great temptation for the rest of us is to remain ineffective and content drifting along in the shallows of faith. I don’t believe you are one of those people.  I believe Christ is calling us to more.

Imagine, just for a moment, what Jesus truly meant when he said, “Follow me.” What were his intentions for you? Could he be calling us to a more radical way of living? I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday. We have much to talk about and to celebrate as we tackle one last myth: giving is for people who have extra. See you there.

“I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:4 NIV

-Pastor Jen