You’ve probably heard that the definition of insanity is to continue doing the same things while expecting different results. W.L. Bateman put it this way: “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.” If you continue to put the same amount of commitment into following Christ, you will continue to see the same amount of effectiveness in your life. To see radical change in both your growth and usefulness in the Kingdom, you have to radically alter what you’ve been doing.
Many of us really like the idea of doing big things in the name of Christ. I’m drawn to words like extreme, radical and audacious; the images they convey excite me. I don’t want to be a small player; I want to live large for the Kingdom of God. I want to shake this world with the love of Jesus. If the same thoughts stir you as well, then you must realize that continuing the status quo is simply not an option. We have to shake things up, rattle the cage a bit, and find new and exciting ways to serve our King.
Western Christianity is easy; it requires little from us. You simply go to church once or twice a week, volunteer every now and then, give a little money and keep your public life free from a select list of sins. It really doesn’t take a lot of time, and we can continue pursuing the American Dream with the remainder of our lives. We look good to those around us and get to experience the best of both the spiritual and material worlds. The problem with this perverted definition of Christianity is it has little if anything to do with being a follower of Christ. If you are content with being a so-called Christian as defined above, you can stop reading right now; the status quo is fine for you. You are comfortable and apparently unconcerned with defending yourself before the Judge of the Universe.
If, however, you are fed up with lip service Christianity and are ready to once and for all devote yourself to a life of following Jesus, you’re going to have to stretch yourself. Stretching always feels good when you’re done, but is rarely comfortable while engaging in it. If you don’t feel a little burn, you’re not actually stretching! So if you want to increase your commitment, if you want to be more effective for the Kingdom, it’s going to involve engaging in some serious burning and discomfort. We’re going to have to do things we’ve never done before and step out in the faith that we will have the wherewithal to accomplish them.
I don’t know what stretching looks like for you, but I will share some areas in my own life where I am being called to stretch. I spend my days in ongoing conversation with God, but I rarely set aside time for concentrated, earnest and gut-wrenching prayer. I read the Bible every day, but I need to devote more time to deep study and reflection on small pieces of Scripture at a time. I love to give the money God has entrusted to me to others in need, but I struggle with donating generous amounts time. I am intensely bothered by the number of opportunities I allow to pass by without seizing the moment for Christ. As you can see, I need to stretch – a lot!
How about you? What areas of your life do you recognize the need to stop doing what you’ve always done so you might experience God more fully? In what ways could you give more of yourself, your time or money to accomplish more for the Kingdom? Don’t be satisfied with what you’ve already got. Don’t be afraid to stretch. Ask God to reveal the ways He wants you to grow this year and then start stretching. There’s no better feeling than a little holy burning in your life! Let’s make this our best Kingdom year ever.