Life that is Truly Life
As I continue to work through the Book of Acts (slowly...), I've become more aware of all the different ways that Paul does the work of sharing the good news of Jesus, wherever he happens to be. Whether he's working with Priscilla and Aquila in the tent-maker's stall, in the Corinthian market or talking to Athenian philosophers in the midst of idols, being dragged in front of the authorities for causing holy mischief or simply resting among friends, arguing in the synagogues or shipwrecked on an island, every moment seems to be pregnant with gospel possibility. Sometimes his work is really intentional--going to where the religious folks are and proclaiming Jesus. Sometimes the message bursts forth spontaneously--in front of a magistrate, or guest-preaching in the Areopagus. What seems clear is that wherever he is, whatever the situation, Paul is eager to practice what he preaches: to let everything, all his words and deeds, be interwoven with the name of Jesus, to the glory of God, no matter the cost (I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17).
Now, one could make the case that Paul has a bit of a one-track-mind, by which we might dismiss him as a touch over-zealous. We are, after all, part of a culture that is usually willing to let us believe what we want about the world, about life and God and sin and redemption, and whatnot--as long as we don't inconvenience anyone else with those beliefs. And there are lots of days where, if I'm honest, that's alright with me. And I'm sometimes inclined to fall back on the biblical truth that not everyone is meant to be a capital E Evangelist. I have different spiritual gifts. I really and truly believe that God chose Paul to do the critical work that Paul had to do precisely because he was the kind of guy who had that kind of one-track bullheadedness. What he was called to do required an uncommon focus, relentless single-mindedness. He was just wired that way; I'm not.
But whether or not we are built like Paul, and whether or not our gifts are specially tuned to the kind of teaching and preaching and witness that Paul, and the great Evangelists of the Church have done, the Scriptures do warn us against double-mindedness (James 1:7, 8). As we grow up in Christ (Ephesians 3), the good news of Jesus, the hope, peace, joy and love of God (or the Fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22), begin to take shape in everything we do. There isn't secular work and Christian worship; there aren't some times that matter to God and others that don't; the gospel isn't a kind of spiritual broach that we pin on our "real life" to make us well-rounded citizens of the world. Instead, our hope is that all things are being gathered up in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-13), all things are being made new (Revelation 21:5), even us, even here and now. This is not a threat; it's a promise, into which we're wondrously called.
The goal of the gospel is "life that is truly life" (I Timothy 6:19; John 10:10), that everything we do would be infused with the grace and love and joy of Jesus, the way, truth, and life (John 14:6). So what if we were to ask God regularly what areas of our lives we are trying to keep separate from our Christian hope, trying to handle and manage on our own? Where are we living "double-minded" lives? What if, instead of worrying about what people think, we asked the Holy Spirit to guide us in every area of our lives? It's a risk, to be sure. Jesus regularly calls us to give up our lives, for him and heaven's kingdom (Luke 9:23-25). But the promise is that when we do, we'll find our truest life, we will be more who we are meant to be than we can even imagine; and we'll be in cahoots with the God whose dream for us and this world is wildly good.
If you want to know more about how to pray in this way, let me know. I'd be very glad to talk with you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.