Ok, so maybe I got some ‘splaining to do. if you follow me on Facebook you might be getting some mixed signals. I give those all the time. It isn’t so much that I change my mind, its sort of that ADD part of my brain that bounces around all over the place. If you look at this stuff from the outside in and get confused, imagine what it’s like looking from the inside out!
So I am kind of conflicted here. Over the last two weeks I have posted comments commending two books that I have read in those time periods. The Barbarian Way and Radically normal. These books approach the average Christian walk from what seem to be from opposite ends of human experience. I read both. I resonate with both. I agree with both and have experienced life from both ends. Let me ‘splain.
The Barbarian Way, by Erwin Raphael, McManus sees following Christ as an uncivilized act. God calls his people to do crazy stuff, to abandon popular opinion, to swim against the tide and believe the Invisible is going to take care of you. People in general and church folk specifically are not comfortable with such barbaric behavior so they try to “domesticate” followers. Radically Normal author, Josh Kelley, shows how mighty works of God are done through the simple of living life, working, and enjoying the benefits of Kingdom style living without the drama often associated with evangelicalism.
Both authors are right and most of my readers may wonder if my cheese has slipped off the cracker for good this time. Let me unpack a little. I did a little digging and found out a little second and third hand information on the authors. McManus spends most of his time being the pastor of the church, Mosaic. Most of the time he lives in an normal house in a normal community. He drives a newer normal car and gets his coffee in the same normal shop most days. How totally normal, right? On the other hand, Kelley packed his wife and two kids into a minivan a few months ago and is currently driving all over the country. I spoke to a friend of his last week who had asked him how he was going to payi for the trip. He didn’t have a lot of money in the bank or a set up support network. He said God would take care of their needs. He posted on his website that he would be interested in speaking, sells a few books, but that is it. Now that is downright barbaric!
The point is that it is not either or, but rather both and. God frequently calls upon us to trust Him in ways that our civilized friends and co-followers can;t quite understand. He asks us to trust Him rather than our own ability to do. Most of the time He calls us simply to live and be. Eugene Peterson, in his interpretation of John 1 said, “The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.” He is still doing the exact same thing. We are Christ;s hands and feet, his flesh. He still calls us to follow his lead and move in, inhabit, and be faithfully present in the neighborhood. He also calls us to follow at a moments notice in the realm of the miraculous where only God;s providence can make a way.
I guess is is mostly hindsight where we see if we are radically normal or living the barbarian way. I have a friend, James Switzer, who along with his wife Kathy befriended me and loved me into the kingdom of God. His life has been a whirlwind of adventure when viewed from the endside back, but from the inside out it looked just like living while they were doing it. My life is much the same way. It seems to be that a heart surrendered to and crazy in love with Jesus paints with the brightest colors that are only visible from a few steps away.
I wish that all my readers, followers, and even my critics would pick up both of these books, The Barbarian Way and Radically Normal and read them back to back. They might affirm you. They might give you permission. They might change your course a fraction of a degree or lead you 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Either way, the two books together speak to the same things different ways.
Just thought you might like to know.