When the church-attending skeptic comes, as he frequently does regarding my lifestyle, with pointed questions I don’t fully understand (occasionally ill-intended)…
Q1- When will you get a “real” job?
Q2- Don’t you think you should settle?
Q3- How did you become what you are?
Q4- What does your retirement plan look like?
Q5- Why do you live this way?
Sometimes these are legitimate questions from well-meaning and curious people, and I am thankful for those, and the conversations they cultivate. Other times when the criticism of an alternative lifestyle lays bare, I struggle. I try to gently place “a pebble in the shoe.” I try to give him something he can’t shake, not without effort; not an answer that soothes, but a slice of an altogether different mechanism of thought.
What if we viewed “our” world differently?
I’ve watched far greater men subscribe to far lesser things. I mean that in two ways. The men our world lauds and elevates as great, often live for things so small they are nothing; they trade diamonds for pennies. I’ve also watched truly admirable men, those the Lord calls great, live for what the world identifies as worthless. Daily we ought to follow Jesus which often leads to the latter; though on rare occasions, overlap occurs where the world applauds a godly man.
The humility of Jesus is both our lens for clear vision and the fixed destination which guides our wanderings. During this brief life, our aim is not the glory of man but the favor of God and His approval as we are about His work, walking in relationship with Him. Recall that the Author of our faith, Jesus Christ, was placed on but one pedestal during his time on this earth: a torturous cross. The disciple is not above his master.
By some sort of seemingly gravitational flow, we all aim for a pedestal. For some, it is athletic accolades. For others, perhaps financial gains, full bank accounts, and the corporate approach will set us apart. Papers called degrees, showing our intellect, or certifications showing our proficiency, will make us distinct. For the masses, abundance of materials: the house, the vehicle, the picket fence, etc. Though all of these things can be good, they are not the primary pedestal we ought to seek. We ought to take up our cross, follow Jesus as we die to selfish ambition, and use whatever platform He affords us along this journey.
“Do you daily subscribe to Christ?” This is the relevant question, not, “do you have a subscription?” I’m not asking if you have said, “the prayer,” but rather, “are you among the ranks of His enlisted, in love–receptive to His commands, eager to live by His Word as His ambassador in all things?”
A1- This is the most real work I’ve ever been about; simultaneously the least paying and the most rewarding. A work of passion, full of value. No thing trumps the Gospel.
A2- If the Lord places me at a single station, a fixed location, a career He clearly intends, I won’t budge from it. That will require several doors being forcefully closed, doors I’ve watched Him open.
A3- I became who I am in God’s grace, by God’s grace, over time. He’s still doing a lot of molding, but He has taken me as His own and changed me. I praise God for the people He has brought into my life and the ways He has worked in His timing. It’s almost ridiculous to look back and see some of the ways He was preparing me, while I stood clueless; and the times of stubborn rebellion. There are still a lot of broken parts, dark parts. Thankfully, He’s not finished yet.
A4- Retirement plan?
A5- I live this way because it’s what he has made me for; He has tasked me with this lifestyle, for this season. I can’t begin (yes I can) to tell you the conversations and Gospel opportunities that God has given me, face to face with other soul-endowed human beings, created in His image; all this to the kid who was afraid to order his own food at a restaurant while growing up.
I have found no better expenditure of this life, no greater joy. There is good fruit. We must strive to steward well this life that God has given to us, in whatever arena He has placed us, with our ears open to His Word, hearts and minds abiding in His strength, with endurance and joy.
What has God been preparing you for that you have avoided? What areas have you withheld, when you know you need to surrender? In what ways are you like clay trying to hop off the table, resisting, as the Potter moves to mold you? How are you growing your family in genuine faith? Are you a functioning part of a church community or just in attendance? Do you have a small group that knows you? Have you read, and do you read, your Bible? Where do you volunteer your time, with Gospel motivation? How have you used your gifts for God’s glory, this week? Who do you aim to please? What do you worship? What captures your attention, consumes your free time, and fills your thoughts before bed? What missionary do you regularly write to, encourage, and support? Who are you intentional with? Who do you aim to love that is hard to be around?
In love, I pray this pebble brings some pause to your day, some thought to your mind, and some action to your life.