I went to college during a time and at a school with an interesting dynamic. Though I was at a small, secular university – a state school in the panhandle of Texas, the number of Christians drastically outnumbered the number of non-Christians. And these weren’t just any old Christians. These were the people who spent summers overseas serving others for the sake of the gospel. This was an environment where David Crowder and Chris Tomlin were as popular as Bono or Pearl Jam. And this was a time when approximately one-third of the student body would gather together every Thursday night for a 2 hour worship experience.
It was pretty amazing. I will admit, though, that much of the time I cut out a little early since worship didn’t begin until 10 pm.
As it happened, my dad was a statistics professor at this university as he had been for the previous fifteen years. There were a lot of days, particularly Fridays, when I would straggle into his office after an 8 am class, unshaven and tired, and talk about how great worship was the previous night. Dad would smile and nod, ask a few questions here and there, and was genuinely excited about what the Lord was doing on campus.
But there was one particular morning that has stuck with me over the years when my dad made an off hand comment. He wondered, almost to himself, about the attendance of some of the folks involved in that worship service to his classes on Friday morning. He noted a significant drop off of the Christian leaders on campus on Fridays, so he mused: “You know, son, sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed early and show up to class on time.”
It’s an interesting dynamic, isn’t it? A dynamic in which we are concerned about the “big” things – the big worship experience; the long term mission trip; the multi-child adoption. These are “big” things, and doing most of them requires a level of sacrifice for Jesus. But I wonder if sometimes our sacrifices for Jesus actually get in the way of our faithfulness to Jesus.
There are opportunities all around us right now, right where we are. Opportunities to share the gospel with a neighbor. To teach a children’s Sunday school class. To tell the hard truth to a friend. To tithe to our church. But none of these things have the appearance of being large and audacious. But each and everyone of them is a small example of the kind of day in and day out faithfulness Jesus has called us to.
No doubt, Jesus calls us to make big sacrifices. This is, in fact, the qualification He gave to any and all who would follow Him:
Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
When Jesus speaks about taking up one’s cross, He’s speaking about death. Possibly physical death, as was the case for many of His first followers, but at a minimum the kind of spiritual death to self whereby we give ourselves over fully to the will of God. This death is actualized not once, but over and over again, day after day in a thousand small ways. This is faithfulness to Jesus.
So let’s be careful, friends. Maybe you want to do or be a part of something “big” for God. Good deal.
But don’t neglect the ordinary faithfulness of Christian living in the meantime.