By Deana Rogers
Redemption Tempe seems to be raising the bar pretty high and fast when it comes to discipleship these days, don’t you think?
Read the whole Bible in a year. Journal in SQUID books. Engage in community. Be poor in spirit and hunger for righteousness and be a peacemaker to the refugees coming to Arizona. Plus, all of the other hard stuff Pastor Riccardo says is coming in the Sermon on the Mount series.
Are you wondering how you are going to fit it all into your regular life? Is it doable?
I believe it is, but here’s the thing…
For too long I’ve had God on the wrong list. His name has had a little box next to it. I remember being admonished when I was young to make sure that God had the first part of my day:
“Read the Bible first thing in the morning.”
“How can you feed your physical self before you feed your spiritual self?”
I thought I had to get my 20 minutes of Bible reading done so that I could check it off, even though it was while I was devouring a bowl of cereal with a handful of blueberries. I love discovering God’s story and seeing the connections to life around me. It is a habit that shapes me. But for too long, God was on the “Stuff to Get Done” list. Even after I came to terms with eating breakfast and changing babies first, reading the Bible sometimes remained on the same list as scheduling dentist appointments and buying dryer sheets.
My other “list”—walking with Katie on Wednesday mornings after the kids are at school, meeting my husband for lunch near the university where he teaches, hanging out at Starbucks with Julia—has an entirely different feel. As a matter of fact, sometimes it isn’t an actual written down list at all. They are the moments that give me life, the conversations that nourish me and shape me and keep me focused on what really matters. I don’t schedule time with these people out of a sense of obligation. None of them have boxes next to their names. I want to linger with these people, walk home the long way, get one more refill of our Diet Cokes, sip our lattes a little more slowly. I am better for being with these people.
I have been learning to put God on the second list, and am thinking we could do that together.
Immersing ourselves in God’s story could become less like an item on a checklist and more like a walk with a friend—where the conversation meanders its way through both familiar and new stories and where we walk away with a sense of calm because we’ve been to a deep place with someone who really matters to us.
God’s bigger story of grace and love and presence is the story that holds our stories. Our baby-diapering, college-midterm-studying, and daily-office-going narratives are scenes that are woven into the story he has been writing since before the creation of the world. His kingdom story unwraps the context for our stories.
Will we have to set aside time to actually read or listen to the story? Yes, we will. It will require discipline (The practices of disciple are disciplines, right?). But the end-goal of spiritual disciplines isn’t just a piece of paper with a bunch of boxes checked off. The mind-boggling promise is that as you allow the Holy Spirit to shape your thinking through the lens of God’s story, you won’t be able to get His story out of your head. The True Story Project won’t be another thing you have to fit into your life; it will become your actual life. The way the people in the Bible lived their regular lives and learned to allow God to be the author of their stories is a template for us. In this generation, we are the characters in God’s story. He is telling the world his story with our lives.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus brought his promised kingdom to earth to give new hope and potential for getting life right. It wasn’t what people were expecting, but one day he sat down on a mountain with his disciples to tell them what kingdom living looks like. He lived out his life on earth according to the things he taught that day and got it right every time, so that we could see that living in the power of the Holy Spirit is truly doable. Then he died to make it undeniably possible for us to become kingdom participants. We have been invited to live on this side of the cross and the resurrection. Our bodies are the dwelling place of God on earth in this chapter of his true story. Kingdom living isn’t something we do as an add-on to our regular life; kingdom living is our regular life. That is what “all of life is all for Jesus” means.
So go ahead, Redemption. Set the bar for discipleship high.
As we dive into this study of the Sermon on the Mount and begin our commitment to the True Story Project, let’s pray together that God does not end up on our dryer sheet list, or have a box next to his name. May his story be our story, and by the power of his Spirit, may we live the life he gave his life for us to live.