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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Radical Christianity

We decry radicals. Radicals like the extremists in favor of killing humans because human beings are the primary cause of all problems in this world. Radicals like radical Muslims who blow up buildings and seek to kill infidels. Radicals like those outlandish folks who, in the name of Jesus, loudly declare that all bad things that happen are God's judgment because of gays. Radicals like the anti-abortionist (you can't call this one "pro-life") who blows up abortion clinics and kills abortion doctors in the name of "life." We are not happy with radicals.

Christianity, on the other hand, is radical at its core. What most would term "radical Christianity" is normal Christianity according to Scripture. I mean, what else can you conclude?

Everyone knows, for instance, that good works reflect well on you. So why would Jesus say, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matt 5:16)? We do good works and He is glorified?

But that's trivial. James said, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials" (James 1:2-4). Really, James? "All joy"? Peter said, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation" (1 Peter 4:12-13). "Not surprised," perhaps, but "keep on rejoicing"? He even said that it is God's will that we suffer for doing what is right (1 Peter 3:17). What's with that?

Most disturbing, perhaps, is the kinds of things Jesus said about everyday disciples. He told His disciples, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me" (Matt 10:37). That seems odd. He said, "Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory" (Luke 9:26). Which of us hasn't been ashamed of Him and/or His words? He boldly stated, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt 16:24). Wow! That's serious.

These things are "normal Christianity." It is a life lived for others (Php 2:3-4), sure, but ultimately for God's glory (1 Cor 10:31). Everything for God's glory. It is a complete reversal of our views on husbands and wives (e.g., Eph 5:22-31; 1 Cor 7:3-4; Matt 19:3-6). In a world dedicated to self -- to personal comfort and pleasure -- "normal Christianity" is a life that starts with denying self and taking up a cross. What does this look like? To Christ, it looks normal, right. To the world, it is radical. We need to be that kind of radical Christians. How would your life look different if you were that kind of Christian?

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