After I graduated from college, I wanted to do something important. The thing that excited me most was the idea of changing the world, of really doing something that mattered. Teaching degree in hand, I set out on a summer mission trip to Africa. I had the opportunity to teach orphans and to tell them about Jesus. But when I came home I was confused and unsure how to continue the mountaintop experience of my young faith. I desired to do something meaningful for God. I longed for the excitement I felt in the mountains of Kenya. I fantasized about serving in a poor community, being the teacher they make movies about. Money didn’t matter to me; in fact the idea of making very little intrigued me. I wanted to be a good Christian. And to do that I believed I needed something more than the mundane, everyday life. I needed to do something radical, something epic.
What is an Epic Life?
An epic life is something most of us dream about. Although it looks different for every person, the heart behind it is the same: we want a purpose, we want excitement, and we want to be a part of something big. Not too far from my son’s epic dream of being a super hero, I too desired the same thing. Minus the cape and mask, I wanted to be the one who saved the day, changed people’s lives, and really did something with my life.
The problem is not the desire for a purpose. God designed us that way. We are created to worship and to delight in awesome things. The problem is the heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Because of sin, we do not worship God rightly. Instead, we look to other things to satisfy, to give us purpose.
Furthermore, we often look to the epic things to define a true Christian; forsaking the mundane for the radical. The idea that a believer working at McDonalds has just as much value to the kingdom of God as the missionary doctor in the jungles of the Congo doesn’t make sense. Especially in our culture where we desire the romantic, adventurous life. Yet, this is the very truth of the Bible. We are saved by faith and are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Because of grace we are saved and because of grace we are free in Christ. This freedom is a gift that enables us to serve others (to do good works) with the love we have received (1 John 4:19). There is not a calling with more value than serving Christ. There is not a purpose with more significance than glorifying God. As stated in the Westminster Catechism, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” This is the calling for every Christian.
What needs to change is what we see as epic. It is not the person, the place, or the circumstances that are epic. It is the Gospel. The Gospel is the epic truth that all believers possess. Therefore, we are all able to live radically for Jesus wherever he has called us.
Christ in the Mundane
This is why the mundane matters. Paul Tripp states: “If God doesn’t rule your mundane then he doesn’t rule you. Because that’s where you live.” Most of life is mundane. Most of what we do is unromantic and far from glamorous. And it is here where we grow in Christ. Cross cultural missions, and risk taking for Christ is a part of our Christian faith. But to base the quality of your faith on “mountaintop experiences” is not sustainable. Mountaintop experiences are great, but they are fleeting. It is not the epic stories of man that grow the kingdom of God; it is the epic story of the One Man, Jesus Christ:
This is what we live for, and die for: to make much of Jesus Christ and his glorious, universe-encompassing kingdom. The heart cry of our lives, young and old, men and women, rich and poor, is the glory of Jesus Christ so that with full courage now as always Christ might be honored in our bodies, whether by life or death. –John Piper
Our goal in life is not to fulfill some bucket list. It is not to have a fully loaded passport or bank account. It is not to have a movie made about how awesome we are. The goal of the Christian life is to make much of Christ forever. Thus, the life of a Christian is epic, but not because of the person, because of the Savior.