There's been a lot of talk lately about being radical. Terry Jones, the pastor of a church in Florida, has gotten no end of attention for his decision to burn copies of the Quran on September 11th. Jones said it was a radical move aimed to fight the radical Islamic movement. Providentially, Jones decided to cancel the event and is meeting with Muslim leaders in New York instead.
Stick with me for a second because you're not going to like what I say next. Terry Jones was not 100% wrong. We do need a radical movement in our world. However, violence and hate in today's society just aren't all that radical. Spectacles like Jones was planning are the norm. People go to violent and absurd extremes all the time to make their point.
Radical does not mean you have to cause a media frenzy. Radical doesn't mean that you hurt others - physically or emotionally. It means that you have to do something out of the norm.
Here's where I start having to point the finger back at myself. My gut reaction to this story was to send Jones an email detailing all the positively radical things he could do as a Christian.
- He could make sure the homeless people in his community had places to stay.
- He could make sure no one in his community went hungry.- He could give away part of his salary.
- He could burn hateful propaganda.
- He could collect items to send to the troops.
- He could raise money for The Clean Water Campaign.
- He could befriend a Muslin and show them the very person of Christ through his actions.
But the thing is, I could do all that, too. I could be radical but I'm not. In a way, I envy Terry Jones. However misguided he was (and I fully believe that had he gone through with his plan it would have been disastrous on untold levels), he certainly isn't apathetic.
Passion and wisdom are a lot like faith and works. Faith without works is dead. I would go out on a limb and say wisdom without passion is apathy, and passion without wisdom is reckless or worse. Terry Jones had passion, but he lacked the wisdom to display God's message in a way that loved his enemies. Which, loving your enemies is a hugely radical concept.
I do not claim to be wise or passionate. As I gain wisdom and passion, radical is sure to follow. We cannot love Jesus and not want to change things. He is a creator God and that attribute wasn't done away with on the 7th day rest. He is daily creating in us new beings. He is creating for us new passions and purpose. If we are constantly being renewed, there is no way for us to ignore the stagnation around us.
I think there are some questions we need to ask of ourselves. What passions has God placed in me? For what work is He renewing me? What will it look like for me to be radical? The wonderful things about God is that He'll take us there. He'll bring us to the place. We may not realize it as we go along. Passion and wisdom may look more like sorrow and suffering along the way, but the destination will be something radically beautiful.
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