Yesterday I heard a story that I’m sure has some variations to it, but the essence of the story is what matters. When Charlemagne ruled Europe, he converted people – usually by force. When the hoards of soldiers were baptized, there were a group of soldiers who made sure to keep their arm out of the baptismal waters. When asked why they did this, the response was that they wanted to make sure that their arm was unbaptized so that they could wield their sword and kill whoever they needed to kill.
Baptism doesn’t work that way, of course.
And neither does Christianity, and discipleship. At least, it’s not supposed to. You don’t get have the label of Christian and then go around and dehumanize people, only love some people, and say that God is in charge, except for my money. That’s not how it works.
Or as Michael Foss says in Power Surge:
In order for the church to fully accept the task of training leaders to serve beyond the congregation, it needs to be clear about the boundaries of discipleship: there are none! There is no place where a Christian does not live as a Christian. There is no place where a Christian is not called to participate in God’s love for the world. Discipleship takes place wherever disciples find themselves.
(Pg. 158, Power Surge)
There’s no wiggle room in this. The idea here is that this is a full life deal. It’s not a section here or section there only. You don’t get to choose what God takes control over. You don’t get to decide what God isn’t allowed to touch. It’s a full body experience.
Foss goes on to offer an explanation that I think is pretty good:
People come seeking not theological argument but the experience of God…As a person’s experience of God begins to permeate all of life, faith becomes a way of being in the world – a way of life – more merely a way of thinking or believing.
(Pg. 180, Power Surge)
Faith isn’t an intellectual position that we hold. It’s a way of life. It drives everything we do. If it doesn’t, then why bother with it at all? If faith isn’t making life uncomfortable and challenging how you live, then what worth does it have? If faith doesn’t hold a mirror up to your face and ask you “Is that really how you hear God in this moment?” then what good is it?
If faith is there, hounding you, and altering you, then it is doing its job. If it’s merely patting you on the back and saying – “amazing, you were right again,” then that’s not faith.