Everyone wants to find a "groove" in which to live. You know, that well worn path that 'feels' comfortable to us, that is both predictable yet stimulating... The life that doesn't catch us too much by surprise, yet has enough twists and turns to make life rewarding on occasion...
I watch as my students attempt to cultivate a life just like I have described. Even my most adventuresome students - the ones who want to go on the mission field, or live a shared existence in a Christian commune or live on the margins with a minimal amount of possessions or 'escape' the dying traditional church for an 'emerging' church experience eventually begin to crave a life that has signposts, markers and a regular manner of being. They find that the life which is filled with too many surprises can be disorienting and even frightening compared to his or her existence at home or before college. So they begin to find ways to 'settle down' or to be a 'localized radical' or to just admit that they were an 'idealist' and now they are a 'realist'... So they cultivate careers, bank accounts and retirements like the rest of us, and many times at the expense of what began as a vibrant faith.
The problem, however, begins with the fact that there is nothing more radical in this world than a devoted Christ-follower. To stand on your feet and proclaim authoritatively that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead; to declare that He is coming again to judge both the living and the dead and that all human-beings will experience that judgment is the heart of a polarizing, radicalizing life. It makes life messy. Not all people will like or appreciate your message. The gospel message paints not only a halo above your head, but a target on your back. To "take up your cross and follow Jesus" makes you an object of scorn and derision. To unabashedly declare your loyalty to God in Christ may even result in crucifixion.
The reality is, the Christian life is a messy life.
I presently live in the 'Buckle of the Bible Belt' - the heart of socially conservative Christianity. On one hand, this means that people have heard about Jesus, church and salvation. On the other hand, many people here separate his or her life of faith from their vocation and family life. This results in a very interesting religiously- oriented 'schizophrenia'. In other words, when with other "Christians" he or she will pour out bible and theological knowledge; they will volunteer to teach a class or even work in the church on Sunday - The Lord's Day. They may even engage in some simple Bible study during the week. But for the most part, his or her faith life has little effect on vocation, marriage and general daily life. They would like to think that it does... but then, they still hold grudges, gossip about others, curse and suspend religious activity when professional football is on the television. This religious orientation then comes to supplant the radical life of discipleship to which Christ calls us in scripture.
The Christian life is a life of radical obedience. You love God and love neighbor. You love your enemies. You go the extra mile. You take up your cross and become crucified with Christ. It's a messy life of love - a love always costs you something and always changes you. Once you have loved deeply as Christ loved, you are changed. There is nowhere to hide once you have loved like that. Once you have given it all to Christ on the cross, life becomes an adventure. Money will come and go; jobs will come and go; friends will come and go; and even family will come and go. (No, I'm not advocating divorce or any other such thing!) What I am saying is that there will be those in your family who just don't get it to the point that they will walk away or distance themselves from your radical call. Life will change for you.
But this is how the Kingdom changes things. This is how Christ chose to continue the mission. Radical love results in radical obedience. The problem lies in us. We don't want messy lives, so we allow Christ to have as much of us as we can bear - until our He impinges upon our comfort zone - and then we shut the door. We settle for the dance, rather than the marriage supper of the lamb.
I am asking you today to rethink your life a bit. It's not too late to get a little radical. It's not too late to allow Christ the title to your soul. It's not too late to take a stand and live the messy life of a true disciple. Think about it...