The Radical Business of Living an Ordinary Life


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In his book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, David Platt talks about Jesus' Prayer as He's nearing the end of His life on earth. Jesus tells His Father, “I have finished the work that you gave me to do here.” Then he goes on to summarize that work (see John 17).


Now, Jesus could have said, “I led a massive healthcare reform by healing the sick, fed thousands with very little resources, and revolutionized the way people think about women, children, and minority groups. I turned the religious institution on its head and defined social justice. I inaugurated a Kingdom that will divide history in half and demonstrated the way to live successfully human. Oh, and I raised the dead.”


At least, that’s how I would have summarized my accomplishments if I were Jesus.


But what did He actually say?


“I took care of the twelve guys you gave me."


As Platt puts it, Jesus “staked everything on his relationships with twelve men….(They) were the small group responsible for carrying on everything Jesus had begun.”


In other words, Jesus was focused.


I wonder if that's what it really means to be “Radical”--to invest in the right things and people instead of being all over the place physically or mentally, getting a lot of good things done and thought through while ignoring the very thing I am meant to do and think about today–the thing with which I can most impact the world.


I wonder if “Radical” is more related to “Normal” and “Ordinary” than I ever dreamed.


Where would Christianity be if Jesus had not focused most of his time on twelve ordinary men? It was they who “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Up until then, there was nothing immediately gratifying about training fishermen with tempers and thick skulls. There was no employer review or mountain of feedback for all Jesus endured with these guys–sleeping in the woods, dodging sea-storms, eating at strangers’ tables, breaking up immature quarrels and snuffing out little fires of religious zeal.


Yet at the end of a day of miracles, it was this circle of ragtag men Jesus sailed away from the crowds with. They were the ones around the breakfast fire on the beach, learning that life is about feeding sheep. They were the ones getting their feet washed by God in a dimly lit room with only the sound of dirty water dripping from His Hands.


I have my own little group of disciples. Their names are Anna, Sarah, Rebecca and Ruth. What if I am to change the world through one or all of them? What if, while I sit here dreaming, a bonfire turns to dying embers–the one I’m supposed to gather around, with these few, and teach them how to feed more sheep? 


What if those small feet outgrow the opportunity for washing, while I strive for lesser opportunities amid the ring of applause? Aren't these precious few the ones I should invest in if I want to radically change the world?


(This blog post is an excerpt from my book, Who Are All These Children and Why Are They Calling Me Mom?)