Ordinary, Missional Living
Most people in the world will identify with the sentiment of not wanting to be just like everyone else. Almost everyone wants to stand out in some way. We want to be remembered for our uniqueness. We want to live an “Instagram story” lifestyle. At least we think we do.
However, the reality is that living in the “different” space is exhausting. It takes work, and it’s often not realistic or practical or even financially feasible. We are creatures of habit. We park in the same parking spots every opportunity we get. We sit in the same seats, eat the same foods, and quietly, even if only in our heads, get a little frustrated when we aren’t able to do these same things. Why are we like this? Perhaps it’s our nature? Perhaps it’s in our design?
There are nearly eight billion people on Earth, so we can’t all be famous. Most of us will live quite ordinary lives. Throughout the lineage of Jesus, his ministry, and the building of his church, God used ordinary people to fulfill his promises and plans. Even Jesus himself was an ordinary looking man (Isa 53:2), doing ordinary man’s work, all the way up to the beginning of his ministry.
It’s difficult to know exactly how to share the gospel in ordinary, everyday ways throughout our ordinary, everyday lives. I believe the “ordinary” has a much larger role than is often acknowledged or even understood. Deuteronomy 5 and 6 gives us insight into how people of God, loving the Lord with all of their lives, and orienting their lives toward following the Lord’s commandments, naturally spring forth into missional living.
First, Love the Lord
The words of Israel’s Shema begin by getting our attention: “Hear, O Israel.” The command to “hear” means more than listening to sounds. It means, “allow these words to sink in, provide understanding, and generate a response.” We are being told to listen up because the message that follows can change your life.
Here’s what follows: “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The word one could mean “first,” “one and the same,” or “alone/only.” I believe the translation “first” or “highest priority” fits best, in light of the very next verse: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” This is the message that can change your life: love God first and with all of yourself. The Lord should be first and our highest priority, just like he was to be for the Israelite people he had just delivered out of slavery.
Next, Keep and Teach His Commandments
Next, Israel was told to live out the Ten Commandments that are laid out by Moses in Deuteronomy 5.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deut 6:6-9).
It is vital to point out that the instruction of keeping and teaching the commandments is prefaced by a charge to love God with the entirety of one’s being. It will be impossible to keep these commandments if the motivation is not a deep and completely genuine love for the Father. The love of God is what gives us strength to follow him and ultimately to live missionally.
Finally, Do It Again
We also find here a guide for teaching and instructing in the Lord. “These words that I command you shall be on your heart.” If we want to teach our children and those we encounter to love the Lord, we must deeply know who he is and what he has instructed. And here are some practical ways to deeply know him and his commandments: “you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way.” The person and commandments of God, when written on our hearts, should flow out of us in every aspect of our ordinary, everyday lives. The passage also reiterates that just like learning anything, our human minds require routine and repetition. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Day by day, missional living looks pretty similar, pretty ordinary. When you wake up, love God, tell of what he has done, and remember who he has made you to be. When you sit in your house love God, tell of what he has done, and remember who he has made you to be. When you walk by the way love God, tell of what he has done, and remember who he has made you to be. When you lie down love God, tell of what he has done, and remember who he has made you to be.
Living a missional life, for the most part, isn’t extraordinary. It is quite ordinary. This is, in fact, the goal, that believers in Christ will infuse their ordinary lives with the mission of God.