We need more ordinary Christians. I know that sounds boring and will hardly start a movement, but I’m serious. We need more Christians who live their everyday lives, doing their work, loving their families, and being a good neighbor.
The problem with this is it’s not very sexy.
People don’t like the stories of the people who are engineers working hard to provide for their family and come home to care for their wife and children both physically and spiritually. People like the stories of a radical giving up of something to follow God’s call.
People want radical obedience and extraordinary stories of people selling their house and giving up all their belongings and moving their family across the world. And that might be what God does indeed call certain people to do, but not everyone.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for people finding new, extraordinary ways to sacrificially give of their times, talents, and treasures to go to places across the world in all kinds of different ways. But I’m also concerned that we can easily celebrate God’s calling in the extraordinary, while ignoring God’s calling to the very ordinary, average places that you and I often find ourselves in.
There is great appeal in pursuing exotic or “extraordinary” mission. But the Bible calls us to look a little closer as we live out Jesus’ mission: those in need and our neighbors. - Ben Connelly
In our desire to serve other people, we can’t ignore the simple fact that we are called to love people radically in the context of our ordinary, everyday lives. We don’t have to travel across the ocean to love our neighbors, we just need to walk outside.
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. - 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
What’s an ordinary radical?
They are ordinary in that they embrace their God-given vocations. This means they embrace that God has called them to the places he has placed them. For some this means that God has called them to be a missionary in Africa. For others that means that they have been called to make pizza at Little Caesars. For others that means being a stay-at-home mom.
And here’s the thing about these callings, they are all important and equally sacred.
An ordinary radical embraces the ordinary. He sees that while changing a diaper might not be sexy when compared to somebody else who does something “extraordinary” for God, it is an important and spiritual act of service. She sees that while she might not be called to go across the world, she has been placed in a mission field in her own neighborhoods.
The temptation in our modern world is to do what was fought against in the Reformation. In seeking to do something radical for God, we ignore the sacredness of the ordinary. In Luther’s day, it was the priests who had a sacred, spiritual calling and not the average person. But Luther embraced an understanding of vocation that understood everybody had a sacred calling whether that be in the church, in the home, or on the farm.
When we measure the importance of a person’s calling based on our pre-conceived notions of God’s calling, we can easily be tempted to ignore the importance of ordinary callings.
"For him who heeds his vocation, sanctification is hidden in offensively ordinary tasks." - Gustaf Wingren
And ordinary radical cannot simply focus on being ordinary, however. There is a radical component to the ordinary radical. An ordinary radical, while perhaps having a very average, ordinary vocation, they have a radical calling in the command to “Love your neighbor.”
The ordinary radical embraces the ordinary. But they also embrace the call to love their neighbor.
And because of their understanding of their calling, they do it exactly the way that God created them to do it and with the gifts that God has given them to do it. The ordinary radical radically loves their neighbor in very ordinary ways. They love their kids by providing and taking care of them. They love their co-workers by showing up for work on time and by speaking well of them. They love their neighbors by inviting them over for meals.
Ordinary radicals show the radical, scandalous love of God in all the places God has placed them in their normal, everyday lives.