A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

“What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church – God’s redeemed people holding tenaciously to a vision of godly obedience and God’s glory, and pursuing that godliness and glory with relentless, often unnoticed, plodding consistency.

In doing research for this book, I read three books that had revolution in the title… The Church is certainly called to be salt and light – a beacon of truth and a purifying agent in the world, but I see nowhere in Scripture we are charged with being revolutionary-change architects of a new world order.

Now, to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a revolution of love or revolution of hope… The problem is that all the talk of revolution suggests that what we need are more Christians ready to check out and overthrow, when by my estimation we need more Christians ready to check in and follow through. As Americans, we are so used to getting what we want, when we want it, and how we want it that when the church is not the way we want it to be we think either (1) ‘I’m being abused,’ or (2) ‘I’m out of here.’

My generation in particular is prone to radicalism without follow-through. We have dreams of changing the world, and the world should take notice accordingly. But we’ve not proved faithful in much of anything yet. We haven’t held a steady job or raised godly kids or done our time in VBS or, in some cases, even moved off the parental dole. We want global change and expect the next Band Aid or Habit for Humanity chapter to just about wrap things up.

What the church and the world needs from us, we imagine, is to be another Bono – Christian, but more spiritual than religious and more into social justice than the church. As great as it is that Bono is using his fame for some noble purpose, I just don’t believe that the happy future of the church, or the world for that matter, rests on our ability to raise up a million more Bonos. With all due respect, what’s harder: to be an idolized rock star who travels around the world touting good causes and chiding governments for their lack of foreign aid, or to be a line worker at GM with four kids and a mortgage, who tithes to his church, sings in the praise team every week, serves on the school board, and supports a Christian relief agency and a few missionaries from his disposable income? Even if one is not harder than the other, certainly one is more common. And sadly, that is the one that is more despised…

Our jobs are often mundane. Our devotional times often seem like a waste. Church services are often forgettable. That’s life. We drive to the same places, go through the same routines with our coworkers, buy the same groceries at the store, and mow the yard every spring and summer. Church is often the same too – same doctrines, same basic order of worship, same preacher, same people. But in all the smallness and sameness, God works – like the smallest seed in the garden growing to unbelievable heights, like beloved Tychicus, that faithful minister, delivering the mail and apostolic greetings (Eph. 6:21). Life is usually pretty ordinary, just like following Jesus most days. Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.”

– Kevin DeYoung, Why We Love the Church (pp. 222-225)

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