On Saturday while driving home from an outing to IKEA and Bob’s Red Mill, Jason and I got to talking. It’s not very glocal to drive 45 minutes from our home and buy products from a Swedish company, but the trip is totally worth it simply for the space to have a conversation with my husband while the children are contained and worn out enough to stop jabbering.
We talked about our participation in our community: what does that look like? How fully are we participating? And why do we do it? The words that kept coming to mind for me were High Bar.
I’m reminded of Dad’s teaching about the rich young man asking Christ what he needed to do to have eternal life. Christ told him to give up his possessions, but the man chose not to, and walked away. Oftentimes it seems the lesson that comes out of that story is how hard it is to follow Christ and have money (two masters stuff). But Dad put a different spin on it: he said it was about a high bar.
It seems as though the young man had been following Christ for some time and was basically asking what it took to be like (or to be) one of the disciples. When Christ called the disciples, he said, “Come and follow me”. Nothing about “pack up your bags, put your money into a long-term high-yield cd, and turn down your water heater”. Just: “Come. Follow me.” He set a high bar: live in total reliance on the Father to provide, just as Christ lived. The rich young man wasn’t able or willing to meet that high bar. Christ could’ve lowered it as an exception for the young man, but would that really help anyone? It would devalue the sacrifice of the other disciples, and it wouldn’t help the young man with his struggle with “two masters”.
I keep thinking that I want to be part of a High Bar group, that I can’t do this on my own, that I can’t live a High Bar life until I have a group who is committed to live the same way. I look at Shane Claiborne, the Iona Community, the Church of the Apostles, the Mustard Seed Community, Christian Peacemaker Teams, groups who are making sacrifices to live in radical ways, ways they feel called to live into by God. I hear about churches that have support groups for marriage, for money, for parenting, for redemption, for recovery, that set a high bar level of participation – and transformation seems to be happening! I think about Graham Cooke’s Schools of Prophesy and communities he’s partnered with that move into cities and abandoned places to serve as God’s redeeming hands and feet. Transformation! The living out of the Kingdom!
This doesn’t come about from setting a Low Bar. And yet I feel when I voice these dreams and desires and noticings of a High Bar Life that I’m perceived as idealistic, unreasonable, legalistic, crazy. Should I care? When should I follow those desires, and when should I heed the voices of my community?
I ache to be part of a High Bar group: to do something radical, even as radical as seeking to have a Christ-like attitude while driving my son back and forth to school (something that really does drive me crazy). Just for one year I’d like to live out some Grand Experiment with a group: to lay aside things I cling to in my life and relentlessly listen to and respond to God. I’m not sure what it would look like, but I ache to lean into it.
And then I wonder: am I just being me-centric? Is this something God’s calling me to, or is this me being idealistic and believing the grass is always greener? What if it doesn’t look the way I think it should? What if it’s right in front of my face and I’m ignoring it because I don’t like the way God’s engineered it? When push comes to shove, would I make the sacrifice; or would I be sad, hang my head, and walk away?
What about the inner annointing of the Spirit? Am I in need of community, or am I not trusting in God to be enough to teach and lead me? Honestly, I fear expressing these desires in face-to-face conversations, because at least to date it feels like I have to explain and explain and rarely be understood, or I offend and then apologize lest I alienate. At least God knows (even better than I do) what I mean, and better yet, what God means. 🙂
High Bar. For some, this is a natural way to live. For me, it’s going to take some work. Now, whether in community or alone, will I step up?