My study in the Gospel According to Luke is now complete. These two passages hit me like a ton of bricks:
He remarked, "My mother and my brothers and sisters are all those who hear the message of God and obey it" (8:21).
He replied, "Yes, but even more blessed are all who hear the Word of God and put it into practice" (11:28).
As far as I'm concerned, this is a key to successful Christian living. Or to life in general. Honestly, the last thing I need is to read another book about running. My transformation into a runner didn't come through writing my own book on the subject or through reading someone else's. It didn't come from watching YouTube videos about running. It came through getting out there week after week and actually running.
And Christian discipleship? If there's one thing Jesus taught us, it's that discipleship is never simply about learning. It based on doing. Maybe we love God. Maybe we read his word everyday. But maybe, just maybe, we spend too much time thinking about being missional instead of becoming people on mission. I couldn't count the number of sermons I've heard in my lifetime, yet almost none of them were transformational. For me, transformation didn't come through attending someone's Bible study or speaking in churches and conferences or studying the Bible in its original languages. It came in the form of a dirty African village or a 123-degree day in the Middle East or a freezing apartment building in Asia. It did not come through the evangelical ghetto but in the eyes of a sufferer in our health clinic in Southern Ethiopia. It was born out of pouring my life into others even if I knew that the investment had a good chance of going up in smoke one day.
This is a good time to mention that nothing about missions is easy. Not everyone you minister to and in whose life you invest will turn to gold. God's kingdom is always planted in messy soil. Living on mission is no guarantee that God won't take away your closest partner in the gospel through cancer. The only question is: Is his kingdom advancing? If Luke's Gospel teaches us anything, it's that the way of Christ requires the hard work of love. One 45-minute sermon each week won't cut it. (Don't get me started on the cult of the speaker.) Luke's "evangelism" is the love of Christ, displayed in very ordinary, everyday ways. But displayed, not merely talked about.
Okay, time me for me to shut up and get off my soapbox. I love running and let me tell you why. It's forced me to get off my duff and do something. It reminds me constantly that knowing I should be doing something and actually doing it are two different things. I am late to this party. I know that many of you understood this long before I did. Who knew that running could be such a great teacher? The things that are tough in life require action as well as thought. Just because they're hard doesn't mean you shouldn't do them.