Well, this old house is on the market. Time for a change and one does not get change without change. It is a bittersweet time but it feels like the right next step. The potential move facing us if the house sells has caused me to begin purging files, drawers, and cupboards. Thirty years of articles related to teaching classes and writing books on the spiritual disciplines are being organized or recycled, not a bad project to do even if the need to pay to move it all out-of-state wasn’t a distinct possibility! Image result for free image of a house for sale sign

It has been interesting to see how inundated with information and resources I have been in the form of magazine articles, journals, newspaper articles, and notes from classes and retreats I have taught. Some of this accumulated long before the digital information explosion began. I still like the feel of paper and reading from paper vs. reading online so I have kept probably half of what I had collected but it is all in a more usable form, waiting for the next writing project or class to teach to begin.

One of the things I found was an article I wrote many years ago. I don’t remember when or for what occasion but I share it (again) here:

“How to Live a Radical Christian Witness in Five Easy Steps” by Valerie E. Hess

Do you want to be a more radical witness to the goodness of the Kingdom of God here and now? Are you interested in being more effective in living for Jesus but don’t know how to go about it? Well, I have five easy steps you can take to do that.

1. Live liturgically.

2. Live without fear.

3. Be a blessing to all you encounter.

4. Stay in close fellowship with other Christians.

5. Live in gratitude.

Let me fill this out a bit.

  1. Live liturgically. Instead of doing holidays on “mall time,” do them according to the Church Year calendar. The biggest example here is Christmas, which does NOT start when the stores begin putting Christmas merchandise out. Christmas in the Church begins December 25th and goes for 12 Days, meaning it doesn’t end in a big sale on December 26th. The simple subversive act of celebrating Advent for the four Sundays before December 25th and then truly celebrating Christmas from December 25th until January 6th gets many people’s attention. Another radical idea is Easter in the Church lasts for seven weeks and is preceded by forty days of fasting of some kind (a very foreign concept to many) and self-reflection that doesn’t necessarily “feel good.” Another truly radical idea is Sunday morning worship is not one option among many and is not dependent on how you feel about it. The question is not “what did I get out of church” but “what did God get out of my worship today”? It really isn’t about you, trust me, which can be a real shock to some people.
  2. Live without fear. Several times throughout Scripture, angels tell people not to be afraid. The prophets thunder it throughout the Old Testament. Moses tells running Israelites to not do it. Jesus assures frightened disciples after the Resurrection to be at peace. I have been increasingly suspicious in recent years that God means it: DO NOT BE AFRAID. This does not mean we throw caution to the wind and sky dive without a parachute but it does mean that since we know the End of the Story (see Revelation 21-211), we know Who wins. And if we are playing on the winning team, while there may be some significant plays lost here on earth, we can engage the game of life with confidence. Deeply confident, anxiety-free people who sleep well at night tend to get other people’s attention.
  3. Be a blessing to all you encounter. Simply do not return evil for evil, snarky comment for snarky comment. Do not participate in unholy anger, hatred, lack of interest, lack of compassion, or anything else that hurts another person. This does not mean that “tough love” situations aren’t called for at times, especially with the children in our care or addictive personalities in the family tree, but tough love is still a form of love. Do not stoop to the level that Satan and his minions play on. Play by the rules of Jesus. We know what Jesus would do in every situation and it would be the most loving thing. (We only need to ask the specifics and not the over-arching principle question in each situation we encounter.) If you have trouble discerning what that loving thing is, we turn to number 4.
  4. Stay in close fellowship with other Christians. The idea of an isolated Christian may make sense in a region where people are actively trying to stamp out Christianity and there really isn’t anyone else seeking to follow Jesus but it makes no sense, and isn’t even Biblical, in the region where most of us live. We need each other. Swallow your pride, join a faith community, and remember point number 3. Everyone is fighting a hard battle, despite what it looks like from the outside. Be the blessing to others that you want them to be to you on your worst day. Use their guidance to help you distinguish between when you are being loving and when you are being co-dependent and enabling (see number 3). A candelabra will withstand the wind much better than a single small candle.
  5. Live in gratitude. Seek to be thankful IN all circumstances while not necessarily FOR all circumstances. You will exude a lightness and joy that will get many people’s attention. You will also be helping to accomplish point number 3 above.

So there you have it: five easy steps and you are in the category of “a radical witness for Christ.”

Disclaimer: These five easy steps are not to be undertaken without first consulting your entire self and making sure you are sold out as completely as you can be for the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ. These steps may not win you friends and may cause you to lose some of the friends and even family members you currently have good relationships with. You may need to be prepared to take different employment or move to a different neighborhood, city, or country. Economic changes may also occur. (My lawyer made me put all this in.)