Enjoying the ordinary Christian life?

(SeanO) #1

I remember a while back Dr. Machel Horton released a book called “The Ordinary Christian Life”. In it, he extols the virtues of daily faithfulness to God and in His body, the Church, rather than chasing spiritual highs or the extremes of Christian service.

How have you experienced God’s beauty in the ordinary Christian life? Does this idea of life as worship provide any freedom from a sense of guilt for not ‘serving God’ through formal ministry?

I really like the following quote from an article on the book:

Ordinary does not mean mediocre. Athletes, architects, humanitarians, and artists can vouch for the importance of everyday faithfulness to mundane tasks that lead to excellence. But even if we are not headliners in our various callings, it is enough to know that we are called there by God to maintain a faithful presence in His world. We look up in faith toward God and out toward our neighbors in love and good works. You don’t have to transform the world to be a faithful mom or dad, sibling, church member, or neighbor.

The full article is below.

(Jeff Thornton) #2

Great topic! Another thought-provoking book along these lines is “The God of the Mundane” by Matthew Redmond.

I look forward to reading the full article you posted and adding additional comments later. thanks

(SeanO) #3

@jeffbt14 Look forward to hearing your thoughts and I will have to check out the book. I had not heard of it, but this topic is one that is very important to me, so I’ll definitely check it out.

(Carson Weitnauer) #4

Hi friends, I love this topic!

“Building sand castles to the moon” is how I describe our attempts to secure an independent glory. The Tower of Babel was such a ridiculously foolish effort - to build a tower to heaven! No matter how high we build our castles, when the tide comes in, they will be washed away. And we will never even get to the moon.

Crawford Loritts, in his book Leadership as an Identity, says:

This is not a game we are playing; it’s not a hobby we take up on the weekends. We are not a bunch of self-improvement gurus peddling comfortable advice so we all can feel good about ourselves. Neither are we Christian celebrities basking in our accomplishments, sharing with others how they can be like us. No, we are servants of the Most High God desperate to know and committed to doing everything our Commander in Chief tells us to do. We passionately want to know what God wants us to do" (119).

The life of a servant is very ordinary, mundane, humble, uninteresting. Yet, this is the life that God himself adopted. And it is the life we are called to imitate as we mature in Christ.

So what if we don’t get any glory from it? Really, what’s the loss?

(SeanO) #5

@CarsonWeitnauer Great points! I especially like the sand castle illustration.

I think sometimes people struggle because they are not seeing others come to know Jesus through their life or they do not have the more obvious spiritual gifts that the Church so often celebrates and encourages people to use. They may even feel disconnected from the experience people with such gifts use in their illustrations when they preach / teach.

What are some ways that you, or others reading, think we can find contentment in a life of simple loving obedience to God? How can we be assured that God is pleased with our service if we cannot see visible fruits and are not often acknowledged in our community?

(Carson Weitnauer) #6

Hi @Sean_Oesch, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I saw today that Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren is Christianity Today’s book of the year. My guess is that it precisely addresses your question!

(SeanO) #7

@CarsonWeitnauer Great recommendation!

(Helen Tan) #8

Hi @Sean_Oesch, thank you for raising this discussion and @CarsonWeitnauer, for the book recommendation.

I think it’s so human to seek the spectacular and outwardly glamourous, forgetting that God has given us different gifts and callings, and all that we do are sacred when done in obedience to Him and by His grace.

I recall a pastor telling me that he met an elderly lady during a home visit and saw the wall of prayer in her living room. She had prayer items covering the globe and even though she’s home bound, she would pray across the items on her wall each day and then focus on those the Lord led her to. It was her ordinary life which touches on things extraordinarily and nothing was going to stop her from her gift and calling. The pastor was humbled and said that one day in Heaven, he will get to meet and thank all those who have stood unseen in the wings and contributed powerfully to his ministry.

I am thinking that in the hands of God, there is really nothing ordinary as He does not do ordinary and mundane.

(Helen Tan) #9

I recall Ravi talking about the gentleman who brought him a Bible in hospital after his suicide attempt, and how years later, just before he passed away, he asked Ravi whether he was born for that purpose. I think that there are many of us who are Bible bringers for those whom God uses mightily in public ministry. When we stay faithful and obedient, God will order our steps as instruments in His grand plans.

(SeanO) #10

@Helen_Tan Great points!

I really like the illustration of the elderly lady praying at home. D. L. Moody told the story of a bedridden girl who had been praying for him to come to her town for a long time and when he finally did, many were saved. He attributed that work of God to her prayers.

(Jimmy Sellers) #11

Maybe living the ordinary is extraordinary. :smiley:

(Phillip Walter Coetzee) #12

Wonderful thought! I come from a background whwre I absolutely took the ordinary for granted. When I read this passage yesterday it really made me think about things from my spirituality to my lifestyle, even my tastes.
I have come to understand that we definitely don’t have to chase the extraordinary in order to be so, as Jimmy said, being ordinary is being extraordinary.
In a cultrure and society bent on magnificence, leaning on the extraordinary;

(Jeff Thornton) #13

“Does this idea of life as worship provide any freedom from a sense of guilt for not ‘serving God’ through formal ministry?”

I almost went into full-time ministry during my last year of college (25 years ago) but decided against it since I was only a few months from graduating with a business/accounting degree. I regretted the decision for a long time. In fact, I sulked over the decision, in a woe is me fashion, while reluctantly working my “real job” to support my family. I’m still figuring things out but, YES, I’d say that living life daily as worship, within the details of the ordinary, can provide MUCH freedom from the guilt of not choosing a path of formal ministry. It takes some discipline and awareness, both of which I admittedly lack at times.

I loved how @AmyOrrEwing responded to the lead-in question from @CarsonWeitnauer, as well as how she responded to my question, in the Ask Amy Orr-Ewing session last week. Her comments point toward the reality that I can only hope to authentically live life as worship when I immerse myself daily in God’s presence through prayer, reading scripture, and worship through song (whether by myself or with others). I think our awareness of God’s subtle nudges to action increase when living in this disciplined manner. There is enjoyment in acting on those nudges.

The workplace needs more Christians living life as worship. I always seem to find employment with companies that demand everything from me, while also asking me to keep my religious beliefs private. Ravi Zacharias was the first person to shine a bright light for me on this secular business culture in which I’ve grown up. Like the frog slowly boiling in the pot, I had slowly allowed secularism to become the norm. I compartmentalized my faith, leaving Jesus in the parking lot on most days. Ravi and the RZIM team do a great job of bringing awareness to this subject, as well as offering ideas on how to cut through the veil of secularism with love. For example, the Business Leaders Conference they held in their Alpharetta location a few weeks ago did a fantastic job of addressing the subject of work as worship.

Thank you again for bringing up the topic and for posting the Michael Horton article!

And thanks to @CarsonWeitnauer for posting the link to the book: Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life. I just bought a copy, and I look forward to reading it over the holidays!

(Willem Spaans) #14

Hi Jeff. I enjoyed your post very much because it resonates with my own experience. At one point I also considered pursuing “full time Christian “ ministry”. In the end I felt led to go into the field of adult education and I did that for thirty-five years retiring at the executive level. However, I learned over the years to see my career as my full-time ministry. For the last two interviews I had while seeking a career change or promotion, when asked the question “what are your career goals?” I answered that I did not view my work in that way, but rather that I was pursuing my calling. To go where God would lead me and there to do my work to the best of my ability. In both cases this response was well received and I did try to live this out throughout my career.
Blessings, Bill