A promi­nent New Monas­ti­cism com­mu­ni­ty house had a sign on the wall that famous­ly read Every­one wants a rev­o­lu­tion. No one wants to do the dishes.” 

My life is real­ly rich in dirty dish­es (and dia­pers) these days and real­ly short in rev­o­lu­tions. I go to a church full of old­er peo­ple who live pret­ty nor­mal, mid­dle-class lives in nice, mid­dle-class hous­es. But I have real­ly come to appre­ci­ate this com­mu­ni­ty, to see their life­times of stur­dy faith­ful­ness to Jesus, their com­mit­ment to prayer, and the tan­gi­ble, beau­ti­ful gen­eros­i­ty that they show those around them in unno­ticed, unim­pres­sive, unmar­ketable, unrev­o­lu­tion­ary ways. And each week, we aver­age sin­ners and bor­ing saints gath­er around ordi­nary bread and wine and Christ him­self is there with us. 

And here is the embar­rass­ing truth: I still believe in and long for a rev­o­lu­tion. I still think I can make a dif­fer­ence beyond just my front door. I still want to live rad­i­cal­ly for Jesus and be part of him chang­ing the world. I still think medi­oc­rity is dull, and I still fret about settling. 

But I’ve come to the point where I’m not sure any­more just what God counts as rad­i­cal. And I sus­pect that for me, get­ting up and doing the dish­es when I’m short on sleep and patience is far more cost­ly and neces­si­tates more of a rev­o­lu­tion in my heart than some of the more out­ward­ly risky ways I’ve lived in the past. And so this is what I need now: the courage to face an ordi­nary day — an after­noon with a col­icky baby where I’m prob­a­bly going to snap at my two-year old and get annoyed with my noisy neigh­bor — with­out despair, the brav­ery it takes to believe that a small life is still a mean­ing­ful life, and the grace to know that even when I’ve done noth­ing that is pow­er­ful or bold or even inter­est­ing that the Lord notices me and is fond of me and that that is enough. 

I’ve read a lot of real­ly good dis­cus­sions late­ly about the recent empha­sis on rad­i­cal” Chris­tian­i­ty (see one at an Inter­Var­si­ty blog and one at Chris­tian­i­ty Today). This Rad­i­cal Chris­t­ian move­ment is respon­si­ble for a lot of good, and I’m grate­ful that I’ve been irrev­o­ca­bly shaped by it for some fif­teen years. When we fear­ful­ly cling to the sta­tus quo and the com­fort­able, we must be chal­lenged by the call of a life-alter­ing, com­fort-afflict­ing Jesus. 

But for those of us — and there are a lot of us — who are drawn to an edgy, siz­zling spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, we need to embrace rad­i­cal ordi­nar­i­ness and to be ground­ed in the chal­lenge of the sta­ble mun­dane­ness of the well-lived Chris­t­ian life. 

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Text First Published March 2017 · Last Featured on Renovare.org August 2021

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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