By Joe Chesser
This may shock you, but nowhere in Scripture are we called to be mediocre. In fact, Jesus condemned mediocrity (lukewarmness) in the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3.15-16). Nowhere in Scripture are we called to be drifters. Instead, we are warned of the danger of drifting spiritually (Hebrews 2.1). Nowhere in Scripture are we called to be ordinary, common, or average. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus gave example after example how his followers needed to exceed the lifestyle of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5.20). Going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, loving our enemies and laying up treasures in heaven demonstrate but a few ways we are called to rise above the ordinary to live lives of extravagance.
And why not? Our God is an extravagant God, and we are called to be like Him! Think of the extent of God’s creation from the galaxies in the universe to the creatures in the sea to the changing of seasons. Extravagance does not adequately describe creation. Yet creation is nothing compared to how He lavishes grace (Ephesians 1.7-8 NIV) and love (John 3.16; 1 John 3.1 NIV) on us. Plus there are His promises of forgiveness (1 John 1.9) and comfort (2 Corinthians 1.3-4) and power (Ephesians 3.20-21) that fills us with strength and hope. And words like gold and pearls and fine jewels can never describe the extravagance of an eternal heaven that awaits His people (1 Corinthians 2.9).
The most amazing thing of all is that this incredible, extravagant God has chosen to call us to become like Him and to be united with Him forever (Ephesians 1.3-14). This passage uses terms to get us excited about our calling to be in Christ, words like “every spiritual blessing … chosen … holy and blameless … predestined … redemption … grace … forgiveness” and many more. When we accept God’s call for salvation in Christ we are given the opportunity to rise above the common, ordinary world around us. Extravagance for Christians is not defined by excessive wealth, fame, power or position. It’s not about being flashy or noticed. It’s about doing even ordinary things in extraordinary ways.
As the Apostle Paul urged, we are to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4.1). A part of what that means is for us to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1.16); to forgive as God forgives (Ephesians 4.32); to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5.7); to be a cheerful and generous giver as God is (2 Corinthians 9.6-8); to seek the lost with the passion of God (Matthew 28.19-20); to value others as God does (Mark 12.30-31); to be faithful to God all our lives (Revelation 2.10); to use the gifts God has given us (1 Peter 4.10-11; Matthew 25.14-30); and to worship God regularly in spirit and in truth (John 4.23-24). Extravagance is learning from Jesus how to live above the world.
Since God is extravagant, and we are called to be like Him, why would we ever be content with being ordinary or lukewarm? God is challenging us to rise above human standards and accept His call to be extravagant! How are you answering that call?
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at email@example.com