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EVERYDAY RADICALISM

I have been accused on occasion of being a radical Christian.

What my accusers mean is that I am too extreme in the expression and witness of my faith.

But what my accusers are implying is that following Jesus’ example of how to live life is a radical application of Christianity. In which case Jesus himself must have been a radical, by this definition.

But we know that Jesus is just Jesus. There was nothing radical about him during his ministry years, unless you consider his refusal to condone lies and hypocrisy by those who claimed to know God to be radical.

It’s not radical to believe in Truth and live by that belief.

It’s not radical to keep the realm of Satan (the world) at arm’s length.

It’s not radical to focus your attention on immortal things rather than mortal ones.

It’s not radical to take God at his word, to believe that he means what he says.

Those things are at the core of what it means to be a Christian. You can’t deny Truth, embrace the world, focus on mortal things, doubt God’s Word and still be a Christian, no matter how many crosses you hang off yourself.

The call to radicalism in faith is actually just a call to follow Jesus, to follow the example he set for us during his ministry years. There is nothing radical in this alleged radicalism, but if the world and nominal Christians want to see it as radical, we’ll roll with that. I could care less what people think of me. I care what God thinks of me; I don’t care what people think of me.

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Every so often there’s a push for a revival among this or that Christian denomination or a call to “ministry work” in foreign lands. This is a curious phenomenon. However well intentioned the push is initially, it invariably devolves into little more than a point of pride and a numbers game that eventually devolves even further into a cash grab. The churches then pride themselves on how much more money they’ve been raking in since their alleged revival or expanded ministry or how many more butts-on-seats they have, as if these things are clear evidence of the Spirit moving in their congregation. Eventually, the so-called revival peters out and the denomination returns to its previous state of spiritual life-support.

This is not how Jesus’ ministry proceeded. Whomever Jesus called, he called in Spirit and in Truth, and those who responded were aware they were embarking on a life-long commitment. There is no need for a revival where there is a life-long commitment. There is no reason for pride. This is not a numbers game or a source of cash flow. This is walking the Way of God, carrying our cross, as Jesus walked the Way during his earthly years, carrying his cross. There is nothing radical about followers of Jesus actually following Jesus’ example of how to live. How else can you be a follower of Jesus other than to do as he did, which is what he taught us to do?

It is not radical to follow the path that Jesus forged for us; it’s imperative for us to follow that path, as there’s no other Way to get Home. Following Jesus doesn’t make us radicals; it makes us followers of Jesus.

But let the world and the worldly Christians call us what they will. Let them choose whatever path they want to choose. Their choice is between them and God. As for us, we preach far more by our example than by words that will only be combatted, however well intentioned we mean them. Our example (that is, our witness) is unique to each of us, as God guides us.

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When I was first born-again, I used to attend mass at Catholic churches twice a day. Whenever I entered a church building, I would remove my shoes, as I believed the ground I stood on was holy ground, being God’s House. One day, as I was making my way to a pew, a man called me over and asked me why I take off my shoes. I told him I took them off because I was on holy ground. He said I shouldn’t take off my shoes, because it was an odd thing to do, and we shouldn’t do odd things as a witness, as it would turn people off and drive them away. At the time, I had no response to his concerns (I’d only been born-again for a couple of months and didn’t want to disrespect an elder), but I continued to take off my shoes for three and a half more years until God finally sprang me from Catholicism. My last act, in leaving the Catholic church, was to put my shoes on while I was still in the pew and walk the length of the church with them on, and then out the door forever.

I can only imagine what that man who was offended by me taking off my shoes would have said if he’d seen Isaiah walking around naked for three years.

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My witness and my words are not radical in God’s eyes. That’s all that matters to me.

That’s all that should matter to any of us.