November 23, 2014

Matthew B. Redmond: The God of the Mundane

A Pork-Butcher's Shop Seen from a Window, Van Gogh

Note from CM: Today, I’d like you to meet another new friend. Please welcome Matthew B. Redmond, who blogs at Echoes and Stars. Matt has been a pastor and now works in banking in Birmingham, AL. He has a book coming out later this year, published by Kalos Press, called The God of the Mundane. During our recent discussions here about “radical” Christianity, I found out about his writing and knew I had to share it with you.

The good news is that Matt is a devoted baseball fan. The bad news is that he roots for the St. Louis Cardinals. This means on this blog we now have writers rooting for the Reds, the Cards, and the Cubs. I guess this is fast becoming the NL Central blog, and of course, that’s me (CM) clinging to Jesus’ words about the last being first.

The following post combines two pieces Matt sent me: “A Sermon I Wish I’d Preached,” and the original “God of the Mundane” post from his blog.

* * *

Almost a year ago I announced my resignation from the ministry. A day later I was working at a bank and since then I have not taught or preached. I do not regret that decision in the least. But regret for the way I way ministered to those in my care has washed over me in devastating waves. There are so many words I wish I had never said, so many lessons I would love to unteach.

And there are a number of sermons I wish I had preached instead.

Of course all the best sermons are forged in the fires of preparation and then beaten into us on the anvil of experience. I could not have preached these sermons then because I had not yet learned what I know now. I had not yet seen nor heard…

So now all the sermons I wish I could have preached roll around in my skull. And sometimes they get written down, like this one I could not let go. For over two years this message has careened against my memories and exploded into a thousand conversations shattering a lot of conventional wisdom, shrapnel everywhere.

There is a God of the mundane.

We live in a culture that celebrates the extraordinary, especially extraordinary people. Athletes, rock stars, actors, actresses, and even those who are famous for being famous have our barely divided attention. We single out the best in just about everything and then they become the benchmark for significance and meaning.

And Christians are not immune. The church has its own celebrities and we have been pointing to them time out of mind because of the extraordinary things they have done in the cause of Christ.

The church is awash in the belief that the extraordinary acts of faith – missions, vocational ministry, street evangelism – are our marks of meaning and significance.

“Do something radical. Or crazy. Whatever you do, don’t be ordinary. Because, obviously, you cannot live a mundane life unto God.”

I wish I had looked in the eyes of homemakers and electricians, accountants and actuaries, farmers and physical therapists and told them differently.

I wish with all my heart I had.

A Pair of Leather Clogs, Van Gogh

I wish I had asked them to read through Paul and Peter and the letters of John and see the stark reverse of extraordinary. The only thing that looks extraordinary in the recipients of these letters is that they believe at all. For the whole world is against them.

I wish I had told them that the most extraordinary thing they can do is be content with an ordinary life.

I wish I had told them to kick pop culture in the teeth and be a nobody.

I wish I had told them to trust the God who created them and then saved them. I wish I had told them the first vocation was gardener not pastor. I wish I had told them all work – even the most boring work you can imagine – can be kingdom work.

I wish I had told them that if you are trying to live a radical life, you will never be radical enough. And how would you know if you were?

I wish I had told them there is a God of the mundane.

* * *

Perhaps I am missing something. It is possible.

It appears that the current evangelical climate is one in which faithfulness and spirituality are measured by the eventful and the big — the bombastic. If the waves are not huge and the shifts are not seismic then we assume a kind of carnality. We have redefined radical to the point where the only radical people in the church are those who have sold everything and gone…well, anywhere. I love those people. And that is radical. But for everyone who does not sell everything, you know, those who shop at Target, go to the beach for vacation and grab some sushi (or Cracker Barrel) weekly — is there a spirituality for them that can be called “radical?”

Am I alone in worrying there is no God for the mundane? You know for those who, in the name of Jesus, are simply faithful spouses, honest in business, love their children well and enjoy the world they live in while waiting for the next — is there a God for them?

I think we have gone awry somewhere along the way. It is no longer not enough for a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church, he must now agonize over whether to sell everything to go overseas as a missionary. And you need to know, I am guilty of making people feel guilty about this. I have actually said, “It should be hard to stay where you are.” Someone should have asked me, “Chapter and verse please?” But lets face it, this sounds really good and spiritual. In fact, in many ways it is really hard to stay. It is hard because no one celebrates the day-in and day-out faithfulness that goes unseen by the wider world. It is hard because life is not easy anywhere, there is no idyllic paradise in America where sin is not pervasive and the the devil is not crouching outside of custom-made doors. And it is probably hard for a few because of the guilt heaped up on them who stay and are made to think they are carnal/unfaithful for doing so.

Canal with Women Washing, Van Gogh

Right now, someone is questioning whether I care about missions at all. You see, that is the problem. I do care about the spread of the gospel. But we have elevated what is seen and what is radical to the point where all other activity (or seeming lack of activity) leads people to think one may not care. That may be damnable. We must assume there are untold numbers of men and women spreading the gospel of grace quietly throughout their community and making it possible financially for others to go without making a big deal about it and telling everyone on facebook they are doing it.

Part of the problem may be we have made Paul our only hero and not the nameless recipients of his letters. Who would want to be like one of the unknowns when you can be like Paul? What pastor would want to be simply one of Timothy’s appointed elders, never known and never mentioned? What man would want to be simply a day-laborer, who has believed the gospel and against the trends of the day treats his wife and children with dignity and affection, dealing honestly with his neighbors? What woman would want to be a nameless mother who at the risk of ridicule and inconvenience, huddles with other brothers and sisters in The Way and listens to a nameless teacher about Jesus? It is all so mundane.

It is almost like a new legalism is emerging. “Quit your job. Do something crazy. Pick up and move. If you do not then you are suspiciously lacking in the necessary requirements of what we deem ‘spiritual.’

The rock-star preacher thing isn’t helping either. Life seems so mundane after watching them, reading about them and then listening to them. Changing diapers and paying bills on time and being generous and holding the hand of your spouse and caring about your aging parents and having deep friendships and being committed to the church and crying with those who hurt — well, its just not radical enough. So absolutely mundane. And I fear that for most “ordinary Christians”, they do not worship a God who can be glorified in the mundane.

Comments

  1. There is so much value in the every day. There is a woman I used to know through a large bible study. She’s probably in her early sixties. She’s high school educated at most. She’s not well off. She hasn’t had any unique or glamorous jobs. She’s had children and grandchildren she helps, advises, and prays for. She loves Jesus with all her heart. She has served the church, always helping out but never “in leadership.” She’s never been (anytime that I have seen her) anything less than kind. I am in awe of her. She is the best witness for Christ that I can think of and I wish I were more like her.

  2. pirates fan and worker of a mundane job checking in

  3. We will be on the way to saving the planet when we learn to be content with the ordinary. It’s hard work; in fact you could say its a very extraordinary thing to be successful at.

  4. We cannot save ourselves and we cannot save the planet.

    Both are being brought to an end.

    (not that we ought not take care of ourselves and the planet, as best we can)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      So we should just give up and climb up on the roof (so we won’t have as far to ascend) clutching our Fire Insurance policy and Rapture Boarding Pass? “It’s All Gonna Burn”, so Why Bother?

  5. Nice job Matt ! I have enjoyed your blog for a long time and am glad to see you here. These posts are a much needed corrective to all this talk of ‘radical’ dicipleship.

  6. Don’t forget the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers Chaplin Mike!! :-D

  7. I love this post. “Be still and know that I am God” comes to mind. I have learned too that it is the complete opposite than we are sometimes traditionally taught in the church: God is more in the ordinary than the extraordinary. The extraordinary to humans is probably just religion to God, and the ordinary to us is probably the most fantastic aspects of God.

    Go sit near a waterfall or watch a hummingbird drinking sugar water from a feeder. There’s more complexity to those moments than we can wrap our minds around, and that it why instead of analyzing them we must simply realize in those precious moments the scripture, “Be still and know that I am God” to its true extent. Those kind of moments put us in a trance because of their beauty, but we don’t RECOGNIZE that beauty and instead think that WE have to go out and DO something extraordinary for God.

    Thanks for this well-written post.

  8. Travis Sibley says:

    Thank you for speaking about vocatiinal discipleship. Something I have believed true for many years after I figured out the whole Christian rock star phenomena. Does my heart good to see that others see the truth!

  9. Matt, these are encouraging words, and speak the truth. I can only add that one advantage of the liturgical churches (.I am Catholic but Orthodox, Anglican, and some Lutherns also share this mindset) is an appreciation of the deep spiritual gifts of everyday life.

    It is often linked to the idea of the development of one’s relationship with the Lord over time, instead of the off-cited “Damascus Road” conversion of many evangelicals. And funny you should mention wanting to be Paul rather than his audience….we had a spirited debate here a while back about the problems inherent in focusing on Paul letters instead of the Gospels themselves.

  10. Adrienne says:

    Matthew ~ my heart aches for you, for all of us. Your post reads like my own journal from 3 years ago. My health collapsed from, among other things, working so incredibly hard to be the Super-Christian. I have never heard anyone hit the Paul issue quite so succinctly as you did here. Yup – I really thought I could be like him. “This one thing I do.” After several years of agonizing suffering, questioning, searching I finally got it. God didn’t create me, nor call me to be Paul. He called me to be Christ-like and He would take care of that. Now, I am just basking in the joy and freedom of being “mundane”. Hidden, little, least and all that.

    My home area is, today, reeling from the NCAA sanctions against Penn State. But I think it is, or could be, a red flag to the church. One of the statements that really got my attention is that they hoped that this unprecedented punishment would force the institution to be what it is – A School. That they hoped by removing the annual goal of winning a Bowl Game the people could re-focus on what they were supposed to be in the first place. A place to educate and protect our young people.

    Now I just wonder what “sanctions” God will have to apply to the church to force her to be what she is supposed to be – The Church and not an entertainment center or motivational camp for winners only.

  11. There is a good podcast at the White Horse Inn that relates to this. They discuss boredom and the culture’s desire for “experience” (above anything else). This mindset has infested the church.

    One reason for this mindset, according to the guest on the podcast, is that the culture has lost the bigger picture/meta-narrative. When that happens, he states, all we are left with is to find the best “experiences”.

    The God of the mundane does not meet life’s goal of a good “experience”.

  12. Why are we listening to this guy anyway? I mean, he sold out and left the ministry for a day job. In a BANK of all things! Didn’t he ever see what the Lord said about serving Mammon?!

    Pfouah!

    (irony intended)

  13. thanks Matthew. Period.

  14. Patrick M says:

    Ben, I’m glad you put the (irony intended.) Trolls can be so dense that I wasn’t sure until I read that.

    Great post, Matt!

  15. Pastor Don says:

    Touche,
    Thank you CM, and thank you Matt.
    Years ago I had a very close friend, Earl Quesnell, who often spoke of the God of the mundane. He was always reminding folks in his teaching and ministry that where the mundane was–the ordinary happenings of daily life–there was where God was. You said it just as well as Earl said it. (And he did serve in the mission field in Mexico for 14 years with Danny Ost. Together they founded the Revival Missionary Crusade.)
    We have created a new legalism. It’s title is long but so much fits under it–You’re Not Doing Enough, and Doing It Big Enough! I too use to feed that. Oh Father, forgive me. Christ said the Father’s work for us is to believe. Luther reminded people that to believe was anything but easy. Christian pharisees haven’t heard that or don’t remember that. It’s easy to add to what God has said. We can’t help it. We’re sinners.
    Which brings me to my final Amen. I am not against missions, I just feel the greatest mission field is where you live. We who live in the United States are called to be witnesses for Christ here, to spread the Gospel here! I hope we haven’t muddled it up too badly. I fear we’ve been teaching folks wrongly and have therefore not been the best, if even good witnesses for our Lord and the Gospel. I pray that with God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s help we can all be about witnessing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as we were called to do…where we are…in the mundane of ordinary life.
    Thanks again brothers.

    • I’m glad you bring up your points. I know a couple of anglican missionary priests who serve here in the Pacific Northwest. While they may be radical, their jobs depend on reaching those who are in the mundane. By golly, I think they’ll succeed.

  16. Adrian Z says:

    I both accept my responsibility and also wish that those who were my ‘pastors’ when I was a young man with a young family had counseled me that even though it appeared I had a ‘gift’ that I should look after my family – obviously too mundane. They should have told me that if i did have a gifting then it would still be there later. So I live with the fallout of my immaturity and those who wanted my ‘gift’ (whatever that meant anyway) for their own purpose and plans. I suffered, my family certainly suffered and our life has been impacted.

    Mundane would have been wonderful. Mundane would have been liberating. Mundane would have been holy. These days I have a self appointed ‘ministry’ of metaphorically whacking young men around the head when I see they have fallen for the lie I did. Choosing the mundane can be way more radical than selling all and heading off on mission. The sacrifice of living the daily grind and being faithful to the small things – that is radical. I have learned that lesson, for that I am grateful – pity about the pain and fallout required to learn the lesson.

    Bring on the mundane – thats where I find Jesus now

  17. I’m appreciating these recurring reminders of beauty and grace of living a “normal” Christian life. Thanks for contributing, Matthew.

    Sometimes I feel like God has given us all bicycles for transportation, exercise, work and enjoyment of a journey–and we’ve turned it into some kind of watch me ride faster, do more tricks and flips, jump higher version of the Christian X-Games. The message is be more radical or stand on the sidelines and clap in awe, but don’t come riding out on our track with that 30-year old, single-gear, Schwinn with the basket on the front.

  18. That Other Jean says:

    They also serve who live and love and help out where it’s needed. It’s easy to forget that in the middle of all the noise.

  19. Great post: this will get shared with my friends. Is there a God for the less-than-mundane (Royals fan checking in….) ??

  20. Wonderful, Matt.

    Julian of Norwich promoted the idea of “full homely divinity”…that even the most mundane acts in life are to be treated as holy. We find the same attitude in many other figures…Thomas Merton, St. Benedict, St. Antony…who aren’t always held in high regard in evangelical circles. I wonder sometimes if we as pastors aren’t so concerned that if we don’t “fire up” our congregations, then we won’t have job security? I mean, we must be more exciting and out there than the church down the street, don’t we? Maybe that type of preaching draws crowds, and I have been guilty of it myself, but it’s simple faith that brings one to peace with God. “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.”

    By the way, Julian, for all her humility and simple living, wound up becoming the first female to publish a book in the English language. Pretty “extreme”, indeed, if I might say so myself.

    • All the figures you mention, particularly Sts. Antony and Benedict, were pretty radical people. Wasn’t St. Antony the Egyptian desert hermit? It’s odd to hear them talk about the mundane since we glorify they’re sacrifices so much. Perhaps that’s a dose of reality even the radicals are trying to give us.

      • I guess I view them from a different perspective. The idea that I hear preached in evangelical circles is more of “be a super-hero for Jesus”. Antony and Benedict lived radically simple, if there is such a thing, and very humble lives. Yes, they did spend a good deal of time in solitude, in the desert, abandoning the world’s ways. I don’t think, though, if I told an evangelical pastor, “The Lord has called me to a life of prayer and fasting” that they would be very impressed. As I was coming up in ministry, it was more of “build big followings….build big buildings…build big believers” kind of mindset. That’s the “spiritual giant”, “great Christian leader” that my former leadership wanted to grow…not a hint of humility involved.

  21. Randy Thompson says:

    I’m reminded here of the “Little Way” of Therese of Lisieux: Do something “little” for Jesus.

    What a different, peace-full and guilt-free world it would be for so many people if they paid attention to the daily little things that God entrusts to us.

    Little things are within the reach of everyone, and so often we miss them because our eyes on are some big spiritual deal.

    If you’re not familiar with St. Therese, here’s a nice introduction, and a blessing, too:

    “May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”

    Amen.

  22. Matt,

    Spot on, friend.

    God is in the everyday routines of not-very exciting life.

    Sometimes the temptation to move on up the ladder to helium-filled experiences is too much to resist. Look at the mega-churches. They are so un-Jesus-like, it blows your mind.

    I’m not saying, at all, that Jesus can’t work in those places…I’m sure He does. It’s just not very apparent.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      God is in the everyday routines of not-very exciting life.

      That is the whole idea behind the “little way” of St Therese of Lisieux mentioned above.

  23. Hi! First of all, thanks to Bethany, Matt’s wife, for posting this on FB! :-)

    Love this, Matt! Thanks for sharing. As a stay at home mom, my world is the epitome of the mundane! And as I was getting ready this morning (to go about my mundane day), having read this post, my mind was racing with thoughts and I knew I had to share what was on my mind.

    I think the call for every Christian is to live radically IN the mundane. And maybe you said that in more words or less, but I wanted to clarify this because I think some could take this way of thinking, which I agree with completely, to the extreme opposite of all the “radical” teaching/writing that is out today and think they don’t have to do anything. But such is not the case. One is completely radical in the mundane when they do choose to respect their husband even when they disagree with him (the total opposite of what feminists would want one to do) or discipline their children and not give them everything they wish for, or give cheerfully, or actually share the gospel with your neighbor without fear of them not liking you anymore. Chapter and verse? I Peter 2:12 “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” My desire in my mundane world is to live radically for Christ in my actions, thoughts and attitudes with my children, husband and those around me so that, ultimately, others would give God the glory!! AND IT IS HARD!! I think the hardest place to live out my Christian walk is right here in my own neighborhood. Do I love my neighbors? What does that look like on a daily basis? Would they even know I am a child of God by my actions and attitudes? By the words I speak in front of them and how I speak to my children?

    OK….I think I’ve made my point. I truly loved this post and I do think it’s easy to get caught up in the thinking that one has to “go” somewhere to live radically. Such is not the case. Having lived overseas for two years living “radically” – whatever!! – I know without a doubt that it is just as much of God’s calling on my life to live in my mundane world right now, raising our children to love Jesus with their whole heart and trust Him for everything. And while doing so, to “live such good lives” so that others around me may give Him the glory!! Sadly, though, even among the church, that is living radically!!

    • That Other Jean says:

      Heather, I agree with nearly all of your post, but I do have to call you out on “the total opposite of what feminists would want one to do.” I’ve been a feminist since I knew what the word meant, and I can’t imagine NOT respecting my husband–and he respecting me–at all times, but especially when we argue. We’d never have made it through 45 years of marriage without it.

      • Ladies, I think that you and I and many women of a certain age have varying definitions of “feminist”. To some it means the acceptance of the equal value and status of women before God and the world as half of the human race, to others it is a card-carrying member of NOW and NARAL screaming for free abortion on demand and paid five year maternity leave for single mothers!

        In other words, I think you are both right……you just have different meanings of this loaded word.

  24. Most excellent! Makes me think of the sweet, hard working, humble, living stones in the church I attended. They never looked for recognition, never sought leadership, always faithful in giving…and much ignored. Funny thing is, it didn’t bother them at all. They just kept going and being about God’s business.

    This article sent me looking for my book by Brother Lawrence.

    Thanks for the post and your honesty.

    PS…I may get a few raised eyebrows…but, here goes… MARINERS!

  25. Great post, Matt! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m reminded of a Chesterton quote:

    “because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

  26. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    “Do something radical. Or crazy. Whatever you do, don’t be ordinary. Because, obviously, you cannot live a mundane life unto God.”

    i.e. “HOW HIGH CAN YOU CLIMB THE CRAZY TREE?”

    With the Sheep & Goats scene pushing you into Wretched Urgency.

  27. Changing diapers and paying bills on time and being generous and holding the hand of your spouse and caring about your aging parents and having deep friendships and being committed to the church and crying with those who hurt — well, its just not radical enough.

    —-

    One of the most loving things happened in one of my most difficult moments in life. On January 12, 2012 my Dad was taken to the ER. They thought he had a stroke, what we would later learn is that he had a brain tumor.
    Anyhow, my cell phone started going off like crazy. I vagued saw a text message by my sister about Dad having a stroke. I was stunned. I called, and got the news. I wept, and I was scared. But you know what helped?

    As the news got worse, and I got more scared I called up one of my close friends here in Washington, D.C. It was abotu 12:00 or 1 AM. I told him the latest and said that I was scared to be alone. And with that I went over to his place in the middle of the night. When I got there he hugged me and told me how deeply sorry he was for what was happening to my Dad. I wept and we talked at about 2:00 AM in his living room.

    Somehow..I was able to get to sleep. The next morning I got up and we talked some more.

    The love that i was shown really stunned me. It meant so much to me in a deeply painful moment. But I wonder…why don’t you see that kind of love more often?

    • Maybe we only see it when we open ourselves up to asking for it. And maybe we only ask for it when we find ourselves without our own resources. I saw this happen during my brother’s final illness, for both him and myself. We are both proud people and resourceful, but we each had to ask for help, and, wow, God sent the right people at the right time. I only learned that when I finally had to ask for it. (I hope this makes sense).

      And God answered a bunch of our needs when we hadn’t had a chance to form the words as well. It was an amazing time. I pray, Eagle, that you will see God’s hand even in this awful situation.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The love that i was shown really stunned me. It meant so much to me in a deeply painful moment. But I wonder…why don’t you see that kind of love more often?

      Because it’s a lot easier to keep our distance behind a wall of Bible proof texts and “God’s Will” platitudes. That way we can’t get hurt ourselves and we can stay Super-Spiritual atop the crazy tree.

  28. As someone who is actively involved in supporting missions and exhorting folks to participate, I would like to say this: It’s when folks are seeing God in the mundane, daily details of life that they are most equipped to serve God in missional contexts. When you realize that mission isn’t us doing stuff for God, but God working through us and around us so he can “show off” just what He can do, it takes the pressure off of us to perform.

  29. It seems to me that “radical Christian living” is a lovely and discrete way to practice self-worship unless you do it thoroughly anonymously.

    wavy.

  30. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    The rock-star preacher thing isn’t helping either. Life seems so mundane after watching them, reading about them and then listening to them. Changing diapers and paying bills on time and being generous and holding the hand of your spouse and caring about your aging parents and having deep friendships and being committed to the church and crying with those who hurt — well, its just not radical enough. So absolutely mundane.

    You know, the first season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic expressed the same message? After saving the world in the opening two-parter, the mane characters pretty much lived mundane slice-of-life stories for over 20 of the remaining 24 first-season episodes. Yeah, they had occasional adventures, but most of the season involved getting along, new mare in town, sibling hassles, dreams and hopes, looking forward and preparing for the Grand Gala in the capital that ended the season, occasionally losing it, just living lives — what do colorful cartoon ponies get that so many of us miss?

  31. CarolynRD says:

    Wow. I completely agree with this post. This is possibly the most enjoyable work I’ve read in at least 2 years. I plan to visit here often for more inspiration! Thanks for sharing!

  32. +1

    • I hit reply to a comment and when my comment showed up the other was gone. This +1 seems random and out of sorts now. How fitting!

      This was an excellent post! Thank you!

  33. Matt, I have been looking forward to this. I so believe what you are sharing My husband and I have spent 51 years together in ministry in local church with no regrets. In the past ten years or so I have seen the “Radical” theme reigning. What I think is a major contributing factor is the state of Idealism usually occuring from ages 18-40+.
    The realistic stage began in us in our forty’s. At our age we have walked with God in the most intimate of ways,
    yet nobody else seems to ask or care what we have learned. Until it comes to them that the more experienced Godly may know what they need to know, I don’t see this slowing down. I so pray your book will a part of a reality check and a place of rest and peace.

  34. I am all for the mundane… that is the proving ground in our walk with the Lord – where the love the Lord gives us, is used and seen. My problem as I have thought this through, is that I do not see the mundane done in the power of the Spirit – this is true in my life and in the lives of most believers I know. I see most believers I know living out their lives in the flesh – merely thinking they are living for God. Going to a bank job, being a homemaker, or whatever – if done in our own power then is useless. Like Jesus says in John 15 – ‘apart from me you can do nothing’. But if we are abiding in Christ – then no matter what we do – it will be extraordinary … Because then it is His will, His desire, His strength living out through us.

    • But one part of transforming our daily living is recognizing the wonder of those simple activities and how God is present in all of them. Without that, we see no place or need for the Spirit.

  35. My dad passed away a month ago, and his life was what most would consider mundane…yet, at 81, 500 people showed up at the service. Why? Because he loved people as Christ did: he saw the elevation of doing what one is called to do and being Christ-like to others. He introduced so many co-workers, neighbors, and friends to Jesus…some believed, some didn’t. As my son said when he spoke in the service, grampa’s life and conversation revolved so simply and naturally about loving Christ, knowing who He is–one never felt one was ‘getting preached at’.
    The consistent thing that people have said over the years and was the consistent theme of those who spoke at the service was: When you were talking/hanging out with Art, you felt like you were the most important person in the world. And truly, my dad believed that….you were the most important person to him….it was never a put-on.
    God blessed my dad with the ability to generously give away what he had–money, time, himself–and I mean generously (he was audited by the IRS and they ended up owing him money!!).
    He has been my example of living the quiet life…with big impact/influence–i am, hopefully, living the quiet mundane life-so that others see Jesus too.
    I miss you, Dad.

  36. Joseph (the original) says:

    mundane does not mean bland, uninspiring, joyless, boring, toilsome, pointless, directionless, without satisfaction or contentment or even without being blessed…

    God is a God of daily details. daily responsibilities. daily chores, errands, challenges, etc.

    He does not offer us a yoke of urgency, busyness, striving, holy effort even…

    His burden is light. it is illumination. revelation. truth. freedom. relationship.

    i am convinced He is well pleased with His children that want to please Him. and the efforts we exert as we try to emulate Jesus certainly not without His awareness. but His desire is for us, not the service we provide…

    thank you Jesus…

  37. I’m still learning from you, while I’m trying to reach my goals. I certainly love reading all that is written on your website.Keep the posts coming. I loved it!

  38. Jennifer says:

    I appreciate this post and will be sharing it in our next staff meeting. Thank you for your insight Matt. While I agree with you, I wonder if some of the “radical” push we’re seeing is in reaction to a culture that can be apathetic. What do y’all think?

  39. Matt is a friend of mine and he’s spot on about this. How would you ever know you’ve done enough radical things for God? Who defines what is even radical? Loving your family and staying married for a lifetime are radical enough for me. Now God, please help my unbelief when I don’t believe that!