I’ve heard it more than once in the past few weeks in subtle and not so subtle ways. And I’ve just lost the ability to pretend I am anything more and can only embrace the reality that, according to the standards of this world I might be just as they say I am…
Some labels are hard to bear and some are even harder to earn. Not long ago, I might have resisted or argued against this label with the reasoning that I am probably more level-headed and balanced in my behaviors and beliefs than most people I know.
I could simply point out how radically unforgiving and unappreciative toward differences most people tend to be–no matter what vein or system they proclaim as their own–because yes, you don’t have to be a Believer in Christ to be considered a radical.
I don’t believe I’m unintelligent or ignorant and I feel I’m fairly well in touch with my inner child and artist. I’m culturally sensitive and aware of my surroundings. I read and research and am not blissfully uninformed or the least bit disinterested in the lives and welfare of others. The fact is; I really *do* care.
Maybe that’s the problem.
Maybe that’s the catch:
I care enough to avoid pretending there’s another answer or another way to the answers and peace that most people are seeking–
if they are seeking at all.
I care enough to live and speak and behave what I have come to know through practiced and painful experience as the Truth. I can’t back down from that. That’s the key to who and Whose I am. And it’s what I want people to see most…Christ in me and most importantly; consistently. I care enough to say– if you keep doing the same poor thing and getting the same poor results….. isn’t it time to do something different? Something radically better?
I heard this quote not too long ago from somebody way smarter than me and it really hit home:
“In order to impact our culture for Christ in today’s world it is going to take an apologetic that is not only heard but is also seen…the visual living out of the Christian life is imperative for the time in which we live. If a person can not see your conversion story (feel/experience), they will question it (the Gospel) all the days of their lives.” Ravi Zacharius
Doesn’t that make a whole lot of sense?
And I’ve come to realize that even the *slightest * hint of inconsistency between what I say I believe and how I live is flat out wrong. It’s unloving and unfair; to myself, to others and ultimately to the God who saved me through the glorious Gospel of Christ’s sacrifice.
I know this is true because…
* I’ve done it all wrong.
* I’ve taken Jesus places we never should have gone.
* I’ve denied Him with my words and behaviors more than 3 times.
* I’ve misrepresented and ignored the prompting of the Spirit too often.
* I’ve spent my time being the “skandelon” or stumbling block in the lives
I’ve gotten all uppity and self-righteous with my head-knowledge-holiness of God and have forgotten to embrace others with the steady heartbeat of God’s love found throughout the entirety of His creation.
I’ve been horribly human and He’s been gloriously God anyway.
His kindness has led me to repentance again and again. I can not deny the resurrecting power of the Gospel which has wrought daily, humbling change in my own life…and in so many others I know.
It’s the same powerful Gospel which……
took a man I know, from drowning in a lifestyle if drugs, alcohol and pornography and at the point of a personal dead-end, to being a faithful husband and father to a beautiful wife and three children…all serving God today.
It’s the same faithful Gospel which……
has kept and preserved a woman I know who, shamefully divorced and depressed, spent years battling back from a prescription drug and hypocrisy addiction and now opens her home to countless women from all walks of life to partake in weekly bible studies and mentoring moments.
It’s the same glorious Gospel which…….
breathed new life into the shattered shards of a broken marriage between two broken people I know; putting them back together again in a way so perfectly measured and mended by God that no one may ever know the brokenness was ever there.
It’s the only true Gospel which…….
has guarded, guided and protected another beautiful college aged woman I know as she has struggled her way into adulthood, navigating the rough waters of culture and opinion, and has surrounded her with carefully placed, loving and godly people who step in to lighten her load and illuminate her path from time to time.
This is the Way, the Truth, the Life…the Light of the world shining in the darkness that can not ever, ever, ever overcome.
This is Jesus.
Disciples before me have said it and I can only now echo; where else can I go? What else can I do? What else is there to say? He alone has the words of eternal life…I’ve lived it and it’s true.
So, If standing here beneath this Gospel and living it as the Truth it is makes me a freak, then let it be so. I can do no better than this.
Let me be found living out and sharing this Truth, taking mission trips, having fun, enjoying life, loving those around me, enjoying good company, exercising, playing games, planting flowers, drinking good coffee, making *fabulous* meals, reading great books and petting the occasional cat. Let me be found faithfully unashamed to walk it out.
Oh Lord, I pray; let it be.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written,
“The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16)