“For the kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). Great statement, eh? But what exactly does it mean? Here’s my two cents’ worth: I believe it means that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, need to shed our comfortable Christianity and start living in a way that forces us to depend on God’s power to survive and thrive if we want to grow in our faith and understanding of who He is.
I grew up in a Christian home and chose to follow Jesus when I was eight years old. I attended church twice each Sunday, Pioneer Girls on Wednesday evening, and youth group on Friday. I went to church summer camps, attended Daily Vacation Bible School, participated in Bible quiz contests, played the piano in church, and sang in the girls’ choir. I later attended Bible college for three years and even returned to that college as a staff member for nearly three years following graduation.
I knew the right church vocabulary, the song lyrics, and the most commonly quoted Scriptures. By all outward appearances, I was an active citizen of God’s kingdom on earth. You could even call me an honors student in Sunday school theology. Truth be told, I enjoyed comfortable Christianity, but I knew little of God’s power. That changed when He asked me to do something that was ‘way beyond my human abilities.
I was 24 years old and married only five months when my husband and I moved to Nepal to work with a Christian organization there. At that time, Nepal was a Hindu kingdom. Proselytizing was illegal. National Christians were imprisoned for their faith. In order for us to gain access, my husband worked as a civil engineer on a hydro-electric power project and I taught basic health care. We lived in a teeny mud and rock house with a thatched roof. No electricity, no indoor toilet, no running water.
Snakes, scorpions, and giant spiders invaded our house regularly. Mildew grew on our walls during monsoon season. People stared through our windows incessantly. And health issues plagued us from the moment we stepped off the plane. More than once, I felt like giving up and going home. Instead of yielding to that temptation, however, I cried to God for strength and the ability to stand firm. And He answered.
Saying yes to God’s assignment forced me to put my Sunday school theology into practice. Before boarding the plane to Kathmandu, I found it easy to spout, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Living out that truth in the midst of circumstances ‘way beyond my human capabilities was another story. It was tough, but that’s where my faith began to grow and I began to experience God in new ways.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to head for the Himalayas in order to deepen your walk with God. I am, however, telling you to say yes to God’s assignments even though the thought scares you. Move beyond the safe confines of comfortable Christianity and embrace opportunities to experience God’s power in new ways by saying yes even when it feels risky.
Perhaps that means crossing the street to greet a new neighbor when your natural inclination is to stay close to home. Maybe it means changing jobs, or taking a pay cut so you can pursue a career that truly brings you pleasure. Perhaps it means getting involved in your community as a volunteer among the helpless or hopeless. The thought of doing so feels scary, but if God’s the One nudging that direction, then say yes. I guarantee you’ll discover God’s power in new and exciting ways. Your faith will grow, and your kingdom-building influence will, too.
Here’s a question for you: How have you stepped beyond comfortable Christianity and discovered God’s power in new ways?