Hanging out with some friends this past weekend, I came to an interesting discovery. After hearing me wax eloquent about the man I call Gospel Matt, they were a little surprised to meet him a couple of months back.
Matt is a truly radical follower of God, a fearless renovator of his home, a pioneer in a missional life in inner-city DC, and a guy who gets things done. As someone toasted him at his wedding, he’s the rare kind of soul who looks at the world to see exactly how he thinks people ought to live, and then he just lives like that. Indeed. His unapologetic vision for the world is withering, and contagious, whether he’s imagining a window where there is only brick, peace where there is rampant crime, a house of Jesusy hospitality where there is a city block of isolation, or a safe home and a first-rate education for a couple of ornery kids whose lives were much more likely to lead to a jail than to college. He hires Johnny, the neighborhood handyman/comedian, even though there’s nothing that Matt couldn’t do himself. Once, when he realized that he wasn’t living up to his idealism, he declared a reading fast– he stopped reading all of the high-minded, intoxicating practical theology he loves (he studied with Miroslav Volf ten years ago, and has been quietly commending him to me for at least seven years…) so that he could ensure that his ideals and his reality stayed in the same time zone. He prays for people, he prays with people every day, and he gives his time and energy to help them with barely a thought of the cost.
So after hearing all of this from me, my friends were a little perplexed to meet a man who is slightly soft-spoken, wears a flawless suit, has an impeccably maintained government-issue haircut, and drives a Honda. He has a beautiful wife, a stable job working for the government, and has a blog that is — shall we say– quite plain. I guess my friends were expecting a wild-eyed, long-haired, pungent, poetry-slamming prophet in a hair shirt. But, you see, that is the wonder of Gospel Matt. He knows that the Kingdom of God is one that bubbles up, not one that rolls down from on high. We join this revolution as quiet collaborators, not megaphoned evangelists. Most of all, my friend Matt reminds the rest of us that God will accept and utilize each of us just as we are, and that God’s work will extend way past our appearances and abilities.