In Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love, he refers to interactions he encountered with others after feeling led by God to make a radical change in his life.
When I returned from my first trip to Africa, I felt very strongly that we were to sell our house and move into something smaller, in order to give more away. The feedback I got was along the lines of “It’s not fair to your kids,” “It’s not a prudent financial choice,” and “You are doing it just for show.” I do not remember a single person who encouraged me to explore it or supported me to explore it or supported the decision at the time.
Although I find this sad, it is not surprising. Even within churches, there are norms, standards, boundaries created. One does not simply downsize for the sole purpose of giving away more money.
Don and I ran into a similar situation while trying to bring Melinda home from Guatemala. A year and a half into what was supposed to be a four to six month process we still faced obstacles. While not everyone discouraged us, we felt some within Christian circles believed we should cut our losses and move on.
In certain areas of life the differences between the church and society in general is almost indistinguishable. Eating is one of those areas. I have battled food issues since puberty; but I have learned not to tell people when I am trying to eat well or attempting to eat less. Inevitably I will hear, “Oh, you look great. You don’t need to worry about losing weight.” I stopped attending a Bible Study because the hostess was offended if I did not eat dessert. The temptation to cave into her (many) offers was too hard to resist (even though I knew I would be sinning if I ate it).
Most of us have been on the receiving end of such statements; however, we feel justified when we are the ones making the assertion. What I think we fail to understand is we can be a stumbling block to what God is trying to accomplish in someone’s life. It may be we don’t grasp the call or we fear he is stepping out of God’s will simply because it’s not what Christians normally do.
The typical churchgoer will not ask me why I am choosing to eat differently. If she did, she may find that food can be an idol in my life. She may also find I need encouraged and prayer because my flesh is weak in this area.
Not every Christian is called to sell his/her house, adopt or eat differently. However, we are asked to live by God’s standards, not the world’s. Therefore He may request us to make changes that appear extreme.
Shouldn’t church be the place where we are encouraged to follow God no matter the cost? Shouldn’t we feel comfortable, dare I say excited, to share God’s next adventure for our lives with those who claim to love Him wholeheartedly?
Maybe before we speak, we should prayerfully consider if it is a time to encourage a fellow Christian to step out in faith.
Let me be the first to encourage you to pursue with abandon God’s directive even when it appears radical.
Who does God want you to encourage today?
Photo taken in India, courtesy of Don Winters