A New Legalism


As we were settling into our less expensive but plenty nice and comfy home in the suburbs, Perry and I were catching up on our lives outside of church. Perry described that their family of 4 recently moved from their remodeled awesome house in central Austin to an apartment.

I said,  "Wow! What was behind that?"

Perry said, “We read this book called ‘Anything’.” She winked but she was serious. The apartment was a step in the path of obedience for their family as they had prayed the prayer that jacks with your life.

I celebrated with her the new dreams they were dreaming and all that God was doing in and around them, the apartment only a tiny symbol of God moving their souls.

But I felt sick.If I am really honest I was sick because I began to compare and rather than an apartment or a mud hut- we had just found the perfect paint color for our house.

It had been over a year since I had written the last word of Anything and over 3 years since praying the prayer for the first time. And the radical chaos was ebbing and our lives were feeling in some ways settled and comfy again.

Disclaimer: I NEVER imply in the book or in my theology that God requires the selling of possessions or sheer martyrdom. God is after our unreserved surrendered obedience. Of course often He takes our plenty and portions it out, if we hand over everything.

But for a minute I was feeling like if my life wasn’t hard and stretched out to the point of possibly ripping in two was I even still living “anything?”

And it had me feeling like a hypocrite.

I shouldn’t mislead you.... our lives are far from simple. We are juggling lots of demanding ministry, 4 kids, one nearly 13 (enough said there), in the last months we have fought depression, wrestled as we chose to hold back one of our kids because of learning difficulties, attachment issues with Cooper, a demanding move, walked through some of the worst kinds of death and darkness with two of our best friends...

but talking to Perry outside of church for just one minute life was peaceful... for a moment we weren’t jumping off any big cliffs.

BUT this isn’t a game, a competition of sorts. Dare we create a new legalism where we compare and compete to suffer most for Jesus. We will have enough hard without chasing it.

But the message of our generation is “live radical.”

And while a good number of us need to be pushed off high cliffs because we weren’t living our stories because we were numb or afraid... we need to move to apartments, adopt children, change careers, dream big...

most of us are obediently staying, obediently leading 15 year olds every sunday at youth group, obediently cooking for our friend who just had a baby, obediently grabbing Starbucks before a mundane day at a job we don’t love, obediently inviting coworkers into our homes that may be a little too big, obediently dropping our husband’s shirts at the dry cleaners, obediently taking care of sick kids or deeply sick parents, obediently living without fanfare, obediently cheering for someone else’s more radical God ordained adventures, obediently joyful with easy and thankful for days that don’t hurt.

Go ahead and read anything, pray anything and receive anything God has for you. Even if it is blessing. Even if it is quiet. Even if nothing on the outside changes.

"What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering..." 1 Sam. 15:22

I am reposting this because of reading a thought provoking article in Christianity Today. All of us- as writers and prophets and teachers are doing best to call out sin and move our hearts closer to the heart of Christ. But as with all teaching taken to an extreme- we become focused on outward signs of inner realities. Christ was and is always most concerned with the inner realities.

I think this is a terribly important conversation in our generation in the church. What do you all see as the tension?