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Reflections on Recent Voices Lowering our Expectations

I recently heard a commencement speaker emphasizing the need for young believers to commit themselves to the local church and think about the “long haul” of living for Christ. I then read an article that in some ways echoed the speakers application for Christians to not pursue the “world changing” mentality and passion, but to live out their daily life for Jesus in, well daily life. Let me clarify that much of what both of these men have articulated I can applaud and to which I can say “amen.” However, I am a bit bemused that they seem to posit the idea that there is some rush for young believers to be radical for Christ, heroic, and self-sacrificing. Where is this happening? Maybe we suffer from different definitions of radical, maybe we suffer from different standards of impact, I am not sure. I certainly don’t judge the migration of young evangelicals to urban areas to be radical, not in the forms that I see it. I don’t assess “mercy tourism” to be the same as mercy involvement let alone mercy effectiveness or mercy that leads to life and community changing development. Contrasting with their call I confess that I don’t see the maintenance of a middle class life-style with an obsession for a good quality of life/education for our children to be self-sacrifice, though certainly many of us make financial sacrifices to get the best for our kids. If it is for our kids it is still about us. Though this is not wrong let’s not confuse this with laying down your life (and risking the lives of your family) for the glory of God. Raising our children in the faith does give glory to God, but again this is not sacrifice, it is just simply expected of good parents. As a pastor I couldn’t agree more that young adults need to understand the pivotal role of the local church in the concept of the Kingdom of God. I concur that all believers need the disciplined commitment, involvement, participation and long term taking of responsibility in a local church to really understand community, love, submission, and discipleship. Consumerist tendencies in our culture, (the sense of entitlement to being entertained sufficiently while at the same time not being inconveniently obligated), which I see in too many people, tends to leave me muttering as a pastor. While the speaker warned against activist burn out in attempting too much, too soon, and not digging in for long term commitment he seemed to assume this was a big problem. Certainly in some individuals, but these speakers and writers seem to assume that this is a problem with this generation. Maybe they object to the rhetoric of altruistic and extreme challenge but I do confess that I think Jesus spoke in just those terms. I just can’t apologize for calling on people to give up their lives for God. I do want all of us to learn to live for the Lord in the small things, on the mundane kind of days. I am sure that when the Apostle Paul was making tents he tried to be faithful in having the right material on inventory, the right needles, etc. and that he saw that work as giving glory to God. This of course as he adjusted his posture to let the wounds on his back heal from his last whipping for preaching Christ. Without heroes, without the blood of martyrs, without incredible risk taking in going where “normal” and “sane” people never go, just where would the church be, and what would it be? Oh yes, the typical self focused and self indulgent congregation that makes absolutely no difference to the culture or the neighborhood around it. Sorry, I only mean to offend the complacent.

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