When was the last time you felt unsettled by God or the gospel you believe? As I think about how I, personally, would answer that question, I find myself unsettled but by something else. I find myself unsettled by how seldom my God and my faith unsettle me.
When I open the Word, I find story after story of a God and a message from God that unsettle. The old couple Abram and Sarai are told they were going to have a baby, and then, some years later, Abraham is called to kill this baby. God shows up to Moses in a burning bush that doesn’t burn up, and then calls him to do the impossible in Egypt. Ezekiel was called to preach to dried out bones, Hosea to marry a whore. Then, the Son of God comes, and over and over and over again, he unsettles.
But, here am I: all so often very settled. And that unsettles me. My assumption is something like that God’s unsettling happened “back then,” about 2000 years ago, and that those waves have settled by now. We, the 21st century American church, have things figured out so much so that our God and our gospel hardly need to unsettle anymore.
But, is it really the case that the Lord of all the universe is no bull in the china shop of my life? Is it really the case that the eternal Word of God enters my heart just to sit down quietly, have tea, and read a book, but not to turn over any tables? Is it really true that there really isn’t all that much in me that needs unsettled, challenged, and transformed?
Maybe the problem is that I am not really listening. Maybe I am not in the word enough, and not enough in the word in the right way. Maybe I am not really listening to my neighbors, or listening to the teachings of Christ deeply enough, when he calls me to forgive everyone I know 490 times, turn the other cheek, give the shirt off my back, show hospitality to strangers, feed the hungry, wash others’ feet, preach to outcasts, and take up my cross. Maybe the same unsettling God and gospel of the Bible are at hand in my world too, if I only sit still long enough to listen.