How to Live the Renegade Life God Wants for You
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2013 4 Apr
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Vince Antonucci's new book, Renegade: Your Faith Isn't Meant to be Safe, (Baker Books, 2013).
If you’re a Christian, your life should be a great adventure of taking risks and exercising faith every day. But it’s so easy to simply settle into a lifestyle of conventional behavior that you need to constantly challenge yourself to live the renegade life that God wants for you. When you do, you position yourself to enjoy a close relationship with God and have a significant impact on the world.
Here’s how you can live as a renegade for God:
Shift your focus from religion to relationship. Stop approaching God through religion and start approaching Him through relationship. When you focus on developing a close relationship with God, you’ll discover true intimacy with Him and true influence in the world.
Invite God to pour His love into your life so you can pour His love out for others. Revolve your life around your relationship with God. Don’t settle for having God as just part of your life; instead, build your whole life around your relationship with God. When you do so, your passion for God will grow as you get to know Him more, and your passion for God will translate into compassion for people. Your intimacy with God will lead you to influence the world for the better as God empowers you to become a force of good. God’s love will flow through your life into the lives of other people who need to experience it.
Aim for love, not just growth. While you should definitely grow spiritually from living a Christian lifestyle, the point isn’t just your own growth. Rather, the point is learning how to love God and other people more. So shift your spiritual focus from inward to outward.
Take risks by trusting God. You can’t please God by playing it safe in life; it’s imperative to take the risks God leads you to take in order to live a life that pleases Him. Keep in mind that everything that has the potential for producing greatness requires some kind of risk, and every risk that God calls you to take is worth taking. Don’t let fear stop you from taking any risk. Instead of focusing on what scares you about taking a risk, pay attention to the potential return that that can result from that risk. So when God urges you to tithe, volunteer, or share your faith with others, rather than focusing on your fear of sacrificing money, time, or suffering social rejection, focus on the lives that will be changed forever when you support God’s kingdom work on Earth generously. Look past the fear to see the reward. Whenever you’re hesitant to take a risk that you know God is calling you to take, pray for greater faith so you can move forward. Be sure to base your sense of security in your relationship with God and nothing less than that. When you do, you can confidently take great risks because God – who alone is always completely reliable – will be there to catch you if you fall.
Pass along grace. Let your gratitude for how God has been gracious to you despite your sins motivate you to give other people grace when dealing with their weaknesses and mistakes.
Discover your calling. Prayerfully and thoughtfully consider the question: “How can I use my life to help the most people who are far from God get close to God?” God may guide you to the answers about this question in a variety of ways, such as by speaking directly to you through His Holy Spirit, showing you how your past experiences have prepared you to minister to others now, using stories you enjoy (such as those in movies) to help you figure out what you’re passionate about and why, making you angry about suffering or injustices in the world so you realize that you want to do something to help those causes, showing you how you can do what makes you happy to help meet the world’s needs, giving you wise advice from friends and family members who know you well and love God, and presenting opportunities to experiment with various ways of using your gifts to help others.
Heed the cautions about your calling. Be aware of the dangers associated with living out your calling from God, and pray for God’s help to overcome them. Cautions about your calling include: it will likely require you to go through difficult, draining, and depressing circumstances; it may involve waiting long periods of time before seeing any good results from your efforts; it can come into view only gradually, so you’ll have to take steps of faith without seeing where they lead; it will involve fear as God calls you to do something that’s bigger than yourself; it may involve failure as you’re learning how best to serve God; it probably won’t be dramatic, but instead involve lots of small acts of love that add up over time to something great; and it will cause you to become a target for evil in the spiritual realm. Be confident, though, that God will help you overcome any challenges you may encounter while you’re trying to fulfill your calling, and He will also bless you for your faithfulness.
Focus on God’s calling for you and avoid your shadow calling. Just as all Christians have a calling from God to contribute to His kingdom in unique ways, we all can get become distracted from that calling by gravitating toward natural temptations and selfishness that want to take over our lives. Devote yourself to God wholeheartedly, without dividing your affection between God and something or someone else that competes with Him for the best of your time and energy. You can resist temptation by: praying regularly about it, living to please God rather than others, memorizing Bible verses that address areas in which you’re tempted, and asking a trusted friend to help keep you accountable.
Lead with love. While God wants you to relate to people with both truth and love, you need to lead with love, because people must feel loved before they’re ready to listen to you try to convince them about truth.
Wait well. Get in sync with God’s timing by choosing to wait for Him to answer your prayers rather than rushing ahead and trying to make things happen on your own. While you wait, you can ask God questions and wrestle with your doubts; in the process, God will strengthen your faith.
Persevere. Once you commit to living the renegade life, do your best to rely on God every day to help you remain faithful to that commitment for the rest of your life. Aim to go out in a blaze of glory when you die, leaving behind a legacy that pleases God and inspires other people.
Adapted from Renegade: Your Faith Isn’t Meant to be Safe, copyright 2013 by Vince Antonucci. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., bakerpublishinggroup.com/bakerbooks.
Vince Antonucci is the founder and lead pastor of Verve, an innovative church plant for the unchurched near the Las Vegas strip. Vince's passion is creatively communicating biblical truth to help people find God, and he also serves with the Emerging Leadership Initiative (ELI). He is the author of I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt and Guerrilla Lovers.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.
Publication date: April 30, 2013