Recently I shared about what it was to be among those pointing to the alternative when it comes to the way of the world.
In that piece I shared the story of an old friend who typified those who saw faith as an additional something to the rest of life. That kind of approach is very exhausting and the demands are particularly stretched when you consider the requirements for the ‘day of worship’. So many hoops to jump, so many expectations to meet, so much energy exerted and for what return? How is all that reflecting the Kingdom Alternative?
The reality is for many that it does nothing to reflect the Kingdom Alternative at all. This Kingdom Alternative has at its heart a life-consuming commitment to doing and being everything pleasing to God, doing this with an indefatigable joy in the presence of a peace that the world cannot comprehend. Yet for a considerable number of those who have a church experience of one thing or another, this alternative is either never presented at all, or is referred to something that we can expect to get if we eat our vegetables and help the granny across the road.
The invitation to follow Jesus, however, incorporates a commitment to far more than pie in the sky when we die as long as we’re being goody-two-shoes. The extent to how radical the concept of the alternative is can be seen in the Beatitudes, the sermon on the mount as a whole and His unerring knack of turning commonly held social norms on their head.
Take for example His view on what it is to be great. Where folks be vying for position, acclaim and prestige, the Son of God is the Son of Man submitting Himself to the will of the Father, serving the destitute, hopeless, neglected and ignored. He says that the greatest should be the least. We should know the person in charge by the person who is evidently the lowliest, most able to serve all.
That is still anathema to the way the world and a number of religious institutions operate. Lip-service is paid to the concept with terms like servant-leadership. Yet they are shown in practice to still be a grab for the brass ring – the acclaimed position of being above the others. Titles and offices, duties and responsibilities that sound more like top corporations are paraded in religious settings with little to no regard to the Jesus who lived out the alternative.
So it is that He is not just looking for those who will point to the alternative. He looks for the humble, meek, thirsty and hungry who will above all things pursue the alternative. Pursue it even as it brings them at odds with established orders. Pursue it even as it brings opposition. Pursue it even as people misunderstand or fail to bother trying and just have the knee-jerk reaction of hostility.
Pursue it because there’s something reassuring and real in the alternative that far outstrips what passes for the way things are.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden