For congregations to thrive and Christ’s mission among us to flourish, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has entered a season of discovering where God would focus our work together. Take CBF’s online survey about your church and your personal ministry aspirations before Feb. 2.
This devotional is part of a series in January that tells stories of “Bold Faith” written by CBF field personnel and members of a team composed of clergy and laity from across the Fellowship who are leading of process of prayerful discovery that will result in a faithful response. Find out more about this process called Toward Bold Faithfulness.
By Matt Norman
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Romans, chapter 12, verses 1-2. However, I have to be honest: This is true only when I read these verses in Eugene Patterson’s The Message. That version reads like this:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12: 1-2
There is something so concrete about these verses as I read them, and I think that is why I relate to them. Paul is talking directly to me and giving me clear and simple directions: “Take your everyday, ordinary life…and make it an offering before God.”
Nevertheless, this is not really so simple. When I reflect on the idea of bold faith, I think of this verse; Maybe it is the difficulty of such a seemingly simple act. It is a bold direction from Paul, and it is a bold way to live one’s life.
The word bold can sometimes carry our imagination to leaps of incredible feats of faithfulness. We develop a case of the “I wish.” We always dream of the huge goals that we could do as people of faith. “I wish I could teach the Bible like so–and–so. Or, I wish I had the confidence to go to seminary or be a pastor, to go on a mission trip, to tell people about God’s love, or to give all I have and follow God’s call to some fantastic place of service.”
But what if bold faith is just taking your everyday, ordinary life and placing it before God as an offering?
What I’ve experienced is that it is in the ordinary acts of life where my faith is called to be bold. Bold faith grows roots in the everyday human activity of living life together. Our call to follow Jesus is a call to live each action of our life as an offering to God. These “ordinary actions” are miraculous! These everyday actions of loving family, being friends, welcoming those we meet each day as our neighbors are faithful actions when we orient them as our offering to God. These actions are our call—no matter where they occur, because these are the actions that shape, form and define who we are. When we offer these actions to God, we are offering ourselves. And that is bold.
Matt Norman serves as a CBF field personnel alongside his wife, Michelle, in Spain. You can learn about and support their ministry at www.cbf.net/norman. To demonstrate an extra-ordinary act of bold faith with us, take CBF’s online survey today at www.cbf.net/survey.