Today I'm joining with Marla Taviano in reading through Radical.
Until about a month ago, I was unaware of Radical. Then one day I stumbled across a guest post by Marla and became intrigued. This fall I'm not attending any Bible or book studies and thought this might fill the hole. I wasn't quite sure because the book is about taking back your faith from the American Dream. Not only am I not American, the American Dream isn't something that I buy into, even the Canadian version. Instead, my family has chosen to live by faith on God's provision. Shortly before I met him, my husband left a ridiculously well-paying job to serve with a missions organization. We started our married life on a meagre salary and trusted that God would provide. He has and continues to, but we know that the normal goals of our society, like owning a house, are completely out of our means unless God miraculously provides. It's an interesting place to be.
But as I've read Radical, I've been convinced that this was God-sent. Already, reading Radical has changed my life. But I'll write about that next week. This chapter had different revelations. The biggest was how dangerously off-track my theology has become. See I have grown up a Christian in Canada. Although I live in a very multicultural city, there are plenty of churches and Christians around. We're not a Christian nation, but many of our forefathers were believers which shaped our country. Yeah, Christianity is mocked occasionally as being old-fashioned or too judgemental, but persecution isn't a big deal here. My country, especially the region I live in, is prosperous. Although there are problems, the majority of the poor have a roof over their head, food on the table, and access to schools, medicine and doctors. Life is pretty good here. It's not perfect, but as far as places to live, Canada is amazing. I am so blessed to live here.
And that's the problem. Because somehow my theology went from being blessed to being entitled. Somehow all those passages about being hated because I follow Christ, losing my family and friends or enduring hardship just didn't register. Deep down I believed that if I obeyed Christ, my life would be sunshine and roses. I'm sure part of this comes from growing up in a safe, prosperous nation and some comes from a Christian culture that focusses on the blessings of Christ. Even when the cost of following Christ is preached it doesn't add up with our Christian role models that enjoy both financial success and fame. Maybe our cost of following God is just that I go to church instead of sleeping in on Sunday mornings. And in my complacency, that seems like a high cost indeed. Nothing at all like those who follow Christ knowing that they may die and soon.
Over a year ago, I prayed some dangerous prayers. I asked God to change me. When I wrote that prayer, I was in awe of the amazing work God had done in my life and I was completely sold out to Him. It's probably a good thing I didn't realize what would happen next. God asked me to do something, and I obeyed. With a heart full of trust and love, I did what God asked, confident that nothing but good would come of it. After all, that's what happens when we obey right? God just pours out the blessings. I was not at all prepared for what happened. Within the next month, I was kicked out of ministry, unfriended by a very close friend who was also my mentor and socially ostracized. My world and my theology were turned upside down. As the months passed, God asked us to step out in faith. We continued to obey, often with unexpected and unpleasant results. I was angry at God. Where were the blessings of obedience?
Then I read Radical. I realized how off-base my theology was, how I had turned a God of power and holiness into a vending machine. I obey, He blesses. This is not the God of the Bible. Have you read what happened to the prophets? I have. I guess I just....forgot.
This then is my confession. I confess that I turned God into something comfortable and predictable. I confess that I have been angry with God. I confess that my faith is too comfortable, too easy. I am willing to obey, but not willing to endure hardship for His name's sake. This then is my goal: to count the cost and follow Him, willing to give up friends, family, prestige, reputation and even my life for the privilege of being His.