I live in the best of places and the worst places.
OK, maybe that was a little overdramatic, but living in a privileged area like Orange County brings its share of blessings and cursings. In a land of diverse people and wealth, there is a significant upside to this area. Nice roads, manicured land, and an abundance of things to do and see. It truly is an incredible place to live.
But with the brightside, comes the shadowside. It’s tough being a young couple in this area that is not making a ton of money. It’s tough trying to live like no one else now, so that later on we can live like no one else and be debt free. It’s tough trying to plan to live on one income when you don’t work for a large biotech company or law firm.
You know what? It might be tough, and it might get old that the high schooler at the stoplight next to you is driving a Mercedes, but I know that I don’t have to be trapped. I don’t have to be caught in the vicious cycle of jealousy. I will never compete with trust fund babies and those who might have had a few extra opportunities than me. I don’t want to be crippled by envy, I want to be different.
Francis of Assisi came from an emerging family. His father was in the merchant class, a middle class group that was growing in the 13th Century. After several trials on the battlefield, Francis underwent a conversion to Christ. He renounced his possessions and his former life, even going as far as stripping naked to make a point to his father and Bishop. Francis was done with commerce and military valor. Francis chose to live as an impoverished hermit, becoming a totally different person than what society thought he would be.
His life of prayer, preaching, and helping the needy attracted other people. He soon had a fraternity of sorts, and they all got hammered every weekend. Er, I mean, they all lived a life based on the life of Jesus.
Francis lived differently in his time. St Clare of Assisi also lived differently, in coming from a prominent household and choosing to follow the footsteps of Francis. Both were reformers of the church at that time, and their band of brothers and sisters spread the love of Christ across the region. Francis even ventured into the Middle East (during the Crusades!!) to share Christ with the sultan in Egypt. That’s being different!
Yes, he preached the gospel, and he used words because they were very necessary. But he also attracted other people to this message through his life. He lived differently and through this life he was able to share good news with others.
I wonder what this might look like in our world. Whether it is in suburbia, a major city, or rural setting, I wonder what living differently would appear to be. How might followers of Christ in modern society attract others, apart from bumper stickers and those people holding condemning signs outside sporting events.
What do you think?