The word “extreme” came to mind when I was searching for a way to describe what I experienced a few weeks ago while on a mission trip in Honduras.
Usually, the first thing I think about when I hear the word “extreme” is extreme sports. I imagine skydiving, mountain climbing, or ridding the rapids somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Honestly, I’m not a fan of extreme sports. In fact, I think you have to be extremely crazy to do those things! Some people, however, live for adrenaline filled thrills and heart-stopping challenges!
Generally speaking, the word extreme is used to describe something beyond the ordinary or common place. We use it in reference to an extraordinary activity or experience, such as something extremely dangerous, extremely satisfying or extremely courageous.
I’ve never thought about obeying and loving Jesus as something extreme. That is, until that week in Honduras. In fact, I would classify that week as one of the most extreme weeks I’ve ever experienced. Along with twelve other men I was privileged to participate in a mission trip to Honduras. Although the purpose of the trip was to construct a building that will serve as a medical clinic for families in a poor community, God used this experience to show me what extreme love and obedience really looks like.
In the middle of extreme poverty – poverty unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else in the world – we saw humble, faithful men and women ministering to their communities in the face of unbelievable challenges and life-threatening opposition. We saw extreme courage in pastors serving in areas where their lives are in constant danger. We worked with people this week who’s trust in God reveals, what I can only call, extreme obedience to God’s call on their lives, and extreme love for their fellow man. Most of all, we saw extreme faith and absolute dependence on God. Totally extreme!
Seeing this level of commitment and dedication, I had to face the fact that, most of the time, my faith is less than what it could be. Although I desire to be extreme in my commitment, and my love for God and others, I fall short – far short!
Our experiences this week also reminded me of something else extreme: God’s faithfulness! He is always “extreme” in His love, His presence and most of all, His amazing grace! His love for us is unconditional and eternal. His presence is extremely important because without Him, we can do nothing, and with Him we can do anything. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 3:13
Extreme faith! Extreme love! When you think about it, the word “extreme” is the best (and most biblical) description of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. God was extreme in the way He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to die on Calvary. And, Jesus’ obedience to His Father’s will was so extreme He willingly gave His life for us, taking the horror and humiliation of the cross we rightfully deserve.
In light of what I’ve experienced I must ask myself these questions. Can the word “extreme” describe my life in Christ? Am I as extremely in love with Him as He is with me? And, how extreme is my love for others?
What about you? How extreme is your commitment to follow Jesus? Remember what Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) When you think about it, that’s pretty extreme!