Written by Jonathan Hayashi, USA
I first heard the gospel at 16. Before that, I was an angry, depressed youth filled with hatred. I hated myself, hated my parents, hated my life, hated school, hated authorities, hated adults, and hated Christians. Above all I hated God with all my heart, since I thought He had abandoned me my whole life.
But then I met Jesus, and everything changed. I began to read the Bible and pray. I was involved with a youth group, church gatherings, Bible study, and prayer meeting. I took on responsibilities at church and checked all the boxes. But I knew there had to be something more. Was being a Christian simply checking off a list of church activities?
Then it dawned on me—Jesus gave us The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). We are commanded to reach all people on earth with the Good News. Discipleship is not a choice for Christians. It is a necessity.
When I came to this realization, I began asking myself: what am I doing with my life? How can I make my life count for others and for Christ? I didn’t want to waste this life that has been entrusted to me. I want this life to count for His glory.
I began to change the way I lived entirely. My religion was no longer confined to Sunday mornings. Instead, my faith in Christ impacted the way I talk, the way I walk, and every aspect of my everyday life. I was tired of the same old nominal, casual Christianity. I wanted to be filled with Christ every day, all day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. I wanted how I live to reflect what I believe. I wanted an ordinary radical life.
Radically More Than Sundays
When Christ called us, He called us to live a radical life. Our allegiance to Him is something that should affect every area of our lives. For instance, Jesus told us to deny ourselves (Luke 9:23), sell all our possessions (Matthew 19:21), give up everything (Luke 18:24), and renounce all things (Luke 14:33).
This is a radical calling. Following Jesus is not just sitting in church on Sunday. It is all or nothing.
This runs contrary to our culture of consumerism, which too often leaks into the church. Church has become a kind of spectator sport, where we go and merely watch what happens. It’s as if church were merely an event we attend or an organization we belong to. We sit back and let the pastor preach, administrate, and counsel. It’s our comfort zone, where we get our needs met.
But we are called to more than this. God calls His people in the midst of a crooked generation to be the people of faith and step out (Philippians 2:15). This is a radical stand that goes against our fleshly desire (Galatians 5:17). There is no such thing as a passive, purposeless lifestyle among those who embrace Jesus.
We might just be ordinary people, but the gospel ministry belongs to ordinary people doing ordinary things with radical devotion to Christ. It is not only the paid professionals’ task, but it is the task of the body of Christ to engage in the mission.
Well, what does that look like in practical terms? How can each of us play this role?
It is actually really not that complicated.
Find a friend and talk about Jesus.
You’re thinking, “No way, that’s radical?” Oh yes. And in fact, we don’t have to talk about Jesus, we get to! It’s a privilege that we get to turn our everyday conversations into gospel conversations.
When I was a seminary student studying to become a pastor, I memorized Matthew 28:19–20 for a class: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . . ” And it hit me. I have been a Christian for a long time, and I’ve spent three years in seminary. But have I ever made even one disciple? I thought for a moment, and then I made excuses. Well, it’s not time to do that right now; it’s time for me to study and prepare for the future.
However, deep down, I knew my excuses didn’t make any sense. Knowing that people I walked by in my city—just a block away from my church—might spend an eternity separated from God? That didn’t seem right. Shouldn’t I do something about it? There seemed to be a gap between these simple Christian thoughts and the eternal reality at stake.
Kingdom ministry cannot be an afterthought. All of us are saints called to engage in furthering the gospel among all people. Dwight L. Moody, one of the greatest evangelists of the 19th century, said, “If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent.”
Remember who Jesus picked as disciples? Ordinary men. Nobodies. Fishermen, tax collectors, political zealots. God turned their weaknesses into strength, and used them to change the world. Just like those disciples, we are on a mission. Whatever our vocation or location, we are called to fulfill the great commission and make disciples.
Imagine if everyone in your church saw their primary vocation as a harvest and kingdom worker. It would be a whole movement of ordinary Christians! Discipleship would happen in prayer for one another, in bible studies, in serving alongside each other, in sitting down and listening to others with the regularity of commitment to one another and the Lord.
Imagine if every one of us “ordinary Christians” were having gospel conversations with people around us. Instead of giving a presentation about the gospel, we have a simple conversation, a back-and-forth, a friendly chat. We do not have to “make the sale,” “close the deal,” or “force a decision.” Instead, we intentionally sew the threads of the gospel into our everyday conversations.
It will not always be easy, but it will be worth it, because we know that God can use our ordinary conversations to cause radical change.
A Costly Commitment, A Call for All
The Great Commission is so wonderfully freeing, because it is big enough to fill the whole world, and yet small enough for every single one of us to play a part. Every person called to salvation is called to make disciples, and God delights in taking even the least of us and doing much through them.
When we obey God and live ordinary radical lives, we can turn the world upside down. But obedience can cost us. Jesus told us that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily if we are to follow Him (Luke 9:23). He laid down His own life for the sake of someone else—and there is nothing more radical—so we are called to do the same.
If you want to be distinct, love someone who disdains you. If you want to be extraordinary, serve someone who discourages you. If you want to be radical, pray with someone who despises you.
If we call ourselves Christians, we must be willing to let God use every aspect of our ordinary lives in radical ways.
This article is adapted from Ordinary Radicals: Returning to Christ-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Hayashi (Lucid Books). This version has been edited by YMI.