By Connor Neigenfind
Jesus coming to earth was a BIG DEAL. If you are not convinced of that fact, pick up one of the Gospels and see for yourself. Jesus altered everything of significance for our planet, forever. Yet there was a sense in which His arrival was quite underwhelming. God came as a baby. Think about that. The most significant event to occur in human history, an event that would have eternal implications for billions of human beings, happened without much notice at all. God himself was born in the likeness of men and most of the world didn’t even blink.
Why is this important? It is important because we have a tendency to believe the false narrative that significance can be measured by the attention it attracts. This false narrative is rampant in our culture today. The reality is that although some acts of greatness do attract the attention of others most acts of significance do not.
Take local churches in the West for instance. In Western Christianity we often try and determine the successfulness of a church by its size and assume that if a certain local congregation has a lot of people in attendance at its Sunday morning gathering, then it must be having a large kingdom impact. Maybe. The reality is that as finite human beings we typically try to assess spiritual phenomenon in natural ways. It is quite possible, for instance, that the small church of 50 people down the street is doing discipleship so much better that their kingdom impact will be larger over time than the church of thousands. We just don’t know.
The point is this: sometimes the most epic things you and I do, the things that mater most from an eternal perspective, would get a yawn at the box office if made into a movie. Here is what I want you to understand, embracing adventurous faith is always heroic, but it is seldom glorious. You don’t embark on this path of adventurous faith in order to win the praise of men, you do it for much better reasons.
We see this humility lived in the life of Jesus. Jesus was always a hero, but his heroism was humble and meek heroism. Christ’s heroic identity was antithetical to the preconceived picture of what a hero looks like. Jesus had followers who were frustrated by how different their Messiah was from the conquering King they had been anticipating. Others, it seems, didn’t believe in him for this very reason. His heroism was of a nature that people struggled to understand, and most couldn’t get used to. It was a heroism that didn’t make sense in the heroic vernacular of the day, and wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense in our day either. You don’t embrace adventurous faith so you can look awesome and receive the applause of those around you, you embrace adventurous faith because it is what God is inviting you into.
Here is a real-life example. A while back Claire and I felt God leading us to get involved with the foster care system and welcome a child into our home. Even though we have two biological children of our own we felt enthusiastic about the opportunity to love a child in need in the name of Jesus.
The process to become licensed foster parents took months. The state tries to make sure that kids are not moving from one bad situation to the next, so they do their due diligence in making sure that people who are licensed to become foster parents are actually able to provide a stable home environment for children. They prepare you ahead of time that the process will take a while, and even after you have walked through all of their hoops, processing your paperwork could add a couple of extra months.
Eventually Claire and I received a call that we were licensed to be foster parents. I had just gotten back from a work related trip to Colorado and we were at Hollywood Studios in Orlando enjoying a family day together. We were just about to eat our lunch when we got a call that our paperwork had processed and we were now licensed! The news came as a bit of a shock, since we were prepared to wait a couple more months for everything to process.
On the way home from Disney World, we stopped to pick up a pizza at Dominos. I ran inside and by the time I had returned to the car with pizza in hand, we had received a call that a home was needed for a precious 11-month old baby girl. We talked about it for a minute and then I called them back and said yes, send her our way! About two hours later she was in our home and this precious girl was part of our family.
You might think that taking in a child needing a home is pretty inspiring. You may even go so far as to say being a foster parent is heroic, but what I want you to understand is that no one from the local news channel has showed up at our door asking to interview me. Nike hasn’t reached out to ask if I would be the face of their new advertising campaign. In fact, what this “fire” has looked like practically and functionally for us has been far from glamorous. It has looked like doing the necessary things to love and care for a little girl. We have made her meals, potty-trained her (mostly successfully!), rocked her to sleep, strapped her in and out of her car seat, red her books, made her meals, taken her to Chuck E. Cheese for birthday parties, prayed for her and so on. To the ordinary eye little of what we are doing would be considered cool, and yet, if you asked me “What does embracing adventurous faith look like for you?”, I just might point to this precious little girl. While this adventure that God has invited my family on (to care for and love this child) is a beautiful and important task, it is far from glamorous. It doesn’t make me hip or cool, it doesn’t make anyone want my autograph, it isn’t trendy, but it is significant. I believe it is eternally significant. It matters to her and it matters to God, forever. It’s a small thing, but it’s a big thing; Or maybe a better way of saying it is: it is a big thing that started small.