I actually enjoy Relevant Magazine. The publication, along with Neue Magazine are two of my favorites for understanding the current culture and the future of the church. However, the blog post written by Andrew Byers and posted last week left me a little unnerved.
The article, entitled, We Need Boring Christians, caught my attention because, quite honestly, I am a boring Christian. I live in a modest home with my husband and, side by side, we have raised 3 children. Our summer vacations have ranged from house-boating trips with church groups to camping on the beach. We shop at Costco and Target and we eat chicken several times a week. We attend church every weekend and we study the bible individually and in small groups. (Heck, even my Blog title is “ordinary” )
Mr. Byers’ description of his journey had less to do with boredom and more to do with a lack of contentment and foresight in the midst of boredom. The article described his longing for a radical life as a 20-something-year-old and his undisciplined attempted at embracing his “divine calling”. He was disorganized and confused and his lack of fulfillment in Asia didn’t surprise me, because he was unable to find contentment before he had his airline ticket in hand. I didn’t disagree with any of what he shared in his warnings against “spiritual escapism” in and of itself. However, I did disagree with the tone that was an “either/or” mentality and that he placed it on the backdrop of the short-term mission trip. His journey to self discovery, spiritual maturity and contentment was a necessary trip he was going to eventually need to take, even if he had never traveled beyond his own zip code.
My middle child is a 21-year-old University student, who spends 50 weeks out of the year writing papers for school and working at a boring job making hamburgers and french fries. The last two summers he has gone on short term mission trips for 2 weeks and served others IN HIS TIME OFF. This summer, he is going to do it again. Praise God for that. He could use his time off to go surfing in Costa Rica or follow an Indi Band around the UK and no one would question him, his desires or his heart.
Praise God for the young people who are wiling to broaden their horizons to how God is moving around the globe. Praise God for the young people who spend their Saturday washing cars for 6 to 8 hours to raise money, so that they can travel to Thailand. Their efforts will have raised the money to pay for young Christian College students from Communist Burma to cross the border into Thailand and be revived from the time that they get to spend with American Christians. Praise God for the young people who are willing to drop off $10 or $20 from the tips they earned working in a boring job so that they could help a village in Zimbabwe repair a dilapidated school–and Praise God that they are willing to use the only vacation time they will have to travel to Africa and paint the school with colorful blue paint! In all of these things, the boring and the exciting, Praise God.
There are days when walking through the grocery store is the most annoying and boring thing I encounter, and then I remember two things, the first is that this is how God is using me. He is using me to find ways to prepare healthy food for my family while stretching our budgeted grocery allotment. He is using me in this way so that my husband will live longer and can continue to preach the gospel for many years, so that my two sons can grow strong and be available to do what ever God calls them to do, and so that my daughter can learn from my example.
The second thing I remember as I make my way through the produce section is a hymn. The hymn is “Come thy Fount“. It’s a beautiful German song and if I had only ever heard it sung in English it would gently warm my soul. But, I was blessed this year to have it ignite my soul when I heard it ringing out on a hillside in Northern Thailand. As I made my way down a steep, red dirt path towards a hillside church, with a team of other boring Christians, we heard the song rising from the trees. We stopped and looked at one and another and held our breaths for just a moment. We each have held onto that moment, for it was a spectacular reminder that God was in Thailand long before we ever started raising money to travel there. God was there, yet He still called us there. Perhaps we had an impact on the people there, but, perhaps God had another plan as well, and perhaps that plan was to be able to inspire simple, faithful, boring Christians to keep moving forward where ever they were serving.
We do need boring Christians, yes. But, we need the boring Christians to be willing to do the radical if that is what God is calling them to do. Doing radical things with God gives us endurance and encourages us to look to Him when the days are mundane. Burnout and cynicism are not products of romanticizing social justice or cross-cultural evangelism, alone. Burnout and cynicism are more likely to come when we begin to judge others and then inadvertently judge ourselves. Let the electrician’s apprentice work with an attitude of joy, but don’t be so quick to judge the young person who is going to work in an African orphanage, either. If we sway too far either way we are guilty of falling short of having a heart like God.
“O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above…”
Read Andrew Byers article and many more thought provoking posts at relevantmagazine.com.
Listen to “Come Thy Fount”