So whats the difference between mediocre and radical?
My question stems from wanting to be more authentic. Ive been wondering, what makes someone become a monk? Or a nun? What motivates anyone to become a missionary to some random islands no one has ever heard of?
Ill be honest, I don’t know very many of these types of people. Its probably because they are out making a difference. Living lives of practical service, set apart from the distractions of 21st century civilization. But my question still stands, how did they get to that place of total commitment? What happened in their lives to make them want to do something about what they believe? To be examples, trend-setters, radical leaders?
From my own research and experience, I have come to the conclusion that monks, nuns and missionaries all have something in common.
They believe something.
I’m not talking about platonic belief; its not about what they call themselves, or the clothes that they choose to wear; it has nothing to do with their diets or the style of their hair.
Its about BELIEVING. Accepting something that we think is real and allowing that reality to shape our lives. Believing doesn’t mean that it makes total sense; rather, it means having confidence so fully that our passions shift. Believing leads us to do something about what we know.
This can be a hard concept to grasp if we have been raised in a specific culture or religion. For example, my whole life I identified with the name “Christian” because I went to church every week, knew all the stories about Jesus and agreed with things the Bible taught. But take a moment to step back and think, is this what makes someone a Christian?
Think about it this way. I tell you I am a great cook. My fridge is full of the freshest, most delicious ingredients and my herb cupboard is stocked. I have all the pots, pans, and dishes I need to make you a 3 course meal, and I even have a stack of cookbooks in my kitchen. If you came over to my house, it would look like my chef skills were on point; however, you have never tasted my food and you have never seen me cooking so there’s no way to know for sure.
Is having a fridge full of veggies and a stack of cookbooks enough to make me a great chef?
I’m pretty sure thats not how it works.
I would like to suggest that the way to becoming a great chef is to use the cookbooks and practice making the recipes. After enough practice combining different veggies, meats and herbs, I can then try to invent my own dishes using the knowledge I have from study and practice. Becoming a great chef takes time, dedication to perfection, and hard work in the kitchen. Of course, this process can be easier if you helped mom make dinner when you were growing up, but it still takes really wanting to be a great chef to become one.
In the same way, its easy to call myself a Christian, but the real proof is in how I live my life. As a Christian, my cookbook is the Bible. My food items can be all sorts of things: my ability to sing and write, my ability to study hard, my ability to relate to people and make friends, (insert some great abilities and talents you have here).
To become a real Christian, it is imperative that I study my Bible. I want to find out what the guidebook for Christians says about every part of life! I want to find out how to use my abilities and talents in the best ways so that I can make a positive difference in the world! I have to practice what I learn so that I can develop my strengths and eventually invent new and practical ways to share the love of Jesus! I might have to try different ways of implementing the principles into my life, because lets be real, each of us is unique! The Bible is so comprehensive. It gives us answers to so many of life’s questions, helps us to live happier, healthier lives, and the best part is: the author loves us.
Who loves you so much that they wrote a book just for you?
“God loves us so much that He gave us a most precious gift: Jesus. So that whoever chooses to believe in Him will not die but will have everlasting life” John 3:16 (paraphrased).
Notice the ONE key to having everlasting life, the ONE key to a positive difference, the thing that takes us from one end of the spectrum to the other.
So back to my question: what is the difference between mediocre and radical?
Whats the difference between an OK chef, and an amazing one?
Whats the difference between the average “Christian” and the passionate Christian?
Radical, amazing, passionate people believe in something. Perhaps they believe that love can change the world, or that helping others promotes peace. Maybe they believe in the preservation of nature, or that travel provides the best education. Whatever the belief may be, true believers exhibit characteristics of what they believe. Their belief changes the way they look at life and how they live.
They believe so strongly that they take initiative to do something about it.
A few years ago I was struggling with this concept of believing. Like how do I believe something I know so little about? How do I just believe and what does that look like? I wanted so desperately to believe in something, to have my life change, my focus shift.
So I did something that changed my life forever: I prayed.
And prayed. and prayed. and prayed some more.
I asked God to help me believe. I asked Him to show me how.
And He did.
He gave me the ability, the passion, the desire to believe.
Ive been asking Him ever since. To keep inspiring me, to keep showing me how to practically implement what I believe into my daily life. And every day is different; every day I learn something new, I gain new resources to help me stay on track, I have new ideas about how to share His love better. Heres the cool thing about being a Christian: God promises to help me each and every day that I commit my life to Him. He promises to one day make me perfect, as long as I keep listening to His voice and following His lead. He promises to, in the meantime, make me a great leader, a great Christian, an example for my friends and family of what following Christ really looks like.
They aren’t just empty promises either. Every day I experience little miracles, sometimes big ones! Every day I receive answers to my prayers and strength to keep moving forward.
I believe because I have seen the power of God in my life.
Jesus said “blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe” John 20:29 (paraphrased).
Believing can be hard at first, but God helps us when we ask Him to, and He rewards us in very practical ways.
I believe in Jesus. I believe that He is who He says He is. I believe He is coming SOON.
Do you believe?