A Few Ordinary Men

This summer Aaron Zee and I had the privilege of leading a fantastic small group made up of young Northlake men.  Meeting once a week for 12 weeks, reading through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we challenged each other to put into practice daily the principles that Jesus taught his disciples.  We agreed that some degree of accountability would be necessary in order to hold ourselves to the spiritual disciplines, so we agreed to share openly the results of our adventures (sometimes misadventures).  We agreed to lovingly hold each other accountable, in order to spur each other on to good works.

We called our group “A Few Ordinary Men”, because that is all that we were.  There was nothing too extraordinary about any of us.  But I think we discovered that when you commit yourselves to doing the things that Jesus taught, some truly extraordinary things can happen.  We found ourselves praying deliberately for our enemies/competitors; doing things in secret for others; relinquishing some of our possessions; and attempting to eliminate gossip and falsehood from our speech.  Things didn’t always turn out the way we expected, but that was part of the joy of discovery for us.

What did we learn from these experiments?  Several things: (1) Jesus’ teachings are as relevant and applicable today as they were the day He spoke them.  (2) Jesus’ teachings always seem to stretch us beyond the easy, the comfortable and the familiar.  Sometimes they are even radical and counter-cultural!  But… (3) following Jesus’ teachings can bring a joy, a purpose, a confidence and peace to our lives… so much so, that toward the end we were wondering why anyone would ever want to live life any other way.

As a leader, I wondered at first how well this group of young men would respond to such a challenge.  I need not have worried… they not only responded to it, they embraced the challenge far beyond my expectations.  Their enthusiastic response was enough to make me ask the question: If a group of young men in their early 20’s found such fulfillment and joy in following in the steps of Jesus… why wouldn’t such an experiment work for all the rest of us?

Brent Wiseman

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