The word “resolution” is probably lingering in many minds at the dawn of another year. It is valuable to resolve towards becoming better, and what better time than the start of a new year to activate our resolve!
We live in a world that demands political correctness. The church too demands and often practices political correctness, compromising truth in the process! Political correctness is true to an extent, but should we be politically correct always? I do not think so! When political correctness and truth oppose each other, the greater mandate is to stand by the truth than be politically correct. Political correctness and truth do not go hand in hand always.
Radicalness is necessitated because of the errors in abundance today – both inside and outside the church. The ‘father of lies’ is the architect of these errors (cf. John 8: 44). Standing by truth at all times and at all costs is being “radical.” People have been burnt at stake for being radical. Of course, one could be burnt at stake for being right or wrong. For instance, terrorists are radical in their own eyes, but in the eyes of the law they are wrong, so they are punished.
Being radical involves two extremes – the right and the wrong extreme. The right-extreme is for the truth. The wrong-extreme is against truth - a lie / error.
Of course, the right-extreme is desirable, but the right-extreme will be discarded by those opposing. Those opposing the right-extreme may be ignorant or blind to the truth. Surely, opposition to truth will always be from the vantage point of an error. But opposition to truth should never discourage the bearer of truth. Being radical is both desirable and a mandate; radicalness is always on the side of truth, never in opposition.
Be cognizant of wrong-extreme radicalness within the church of Jesus Christ. Liberal and postmodern Christians teach heresies that contradict Scripture. Consider the ‘devious-liar-Christian’ who encourages homosexual lifestyle based on his [mis]understanding of the Bible. The Bible emphasizes homosexuality to be a sin (Leviticus 20: 13; Romans 1: 26-27; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10), so practicing homosexuals are sinners. The church ought to lovingly and graciously bring these brethren into Christ-consciousness, without rejecting them. The church that loves and nurtures a homosexual into Christ-consciousness is a radical church. In contrast, the devious-liar-Christian who endorses homosexuality by teaching that homosexuality is not a sin and thereby stakes claim to radicalness is not a radical, but a liar and a heretic.
Radicalness is predicated on a proper knowledge of the Bible. Consider this example: Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5: 9). Five chapters later Christ said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” (Matthew 10: 34-35). Christ does not contradict HIMSELF, but these teachings ought to be understood within their immediate and broad context. Therefore, radicalness ought to be fundamentally based on the proper understanding of God’s Word.
We are called to be Christlike (Romans 8: 29 et al.). This is a biblical mandate upon every believer of Christ. But the Jesus of the Bible was a radical.
If we are not a radical as the incarnate Lord was, then what is the purpose of our Christian life? It seems to me that Christians who are not radical are living a defeated Christian life.
It is exciting to study the Christ of the Bible. I use the word ‘exciting’ for the truth in Christ transforms minds and hearts. Transformation is always exciting! When we learn about Christ, we love, follow, and obey HIM - in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
It is exciting to see how Christ overturned the table of the money lenders and drove away the businessmen who diverted the attention of the worshippers from worship to ritualism (cf. John 2: 16). It is exciting to see how Christ termed the religious leaders of HIS time as “whitewashed tombs” and “hypocrites” (Matthew 23: 27). It is indeed exciting to observe the Lord’s words, “Alas for you, you scribes and Pharisees, play-actors! You scour sea and land to make a single convert, and then you make him twice as ripe for destruction as you are yourselves.” It is NOT exciting to know that these folks were headed to destruction, but it is exciting to learn the truth in Christ’s message.
Christ was never polite when people suppressed, distorted or disregarded truth. Christ never sugarcoated HIS words. The Lord’s words were honest and direct. Christ was never politically correct. Christ was a radical.
So to be Christlike is to be a “Christlike Radical.” Anything less is unacceptable to Christ. We are either for Christ or against HIM (Matthew 12: 30). There is no middle ground. If we choose political correctness or the middle ground over Christ, then we are living dangerously to the point where our faith in Christ would be questioned.
If we are to be radical, we need to digest and live these words of the Lord, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great...” (Matthew 5: 10-12, NASB)
Whenever I study the Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3-12), I analogize the Beatitudes to a sandwich. You have to bite what is said between verses 3 to 12 in one bite. The beatitudes have to be seen and assimilated together and not individually. Beatitudes are strongly interlinked. If we are ‘poor in spirit,’ we will be ‘pure in heart,’ so we will be ‘persecuted for the sake of righteousness.’ We cannot be ‘pure in heart’ and not be ‘persecuted.’ We cannot be ‘poor in spirit’ and not ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness.’
Of this I am sure; from a broad perspective, we cannot be radical and successful from within the framework of this world. But if the Lord wills worldly success for a radical, who am I to dispute it? So let me not box God’s deeds, which are marvelous yet mysterious. Normatively, worldly success and being radical for Christ are contradictory. Oswald Chambers uttered these golden words, “The great cry of modern enterprise is success; Jesus says we cannot be successful in this age. This is the age of the humiliation of the saints; that means we have to stand true to Jesus Christ while the odds are crushingly against Him all the time.” We will be humiliated if we desire to be radical. So are we ready to be humiliated for the sake of Christ?
The world will deem those radical for the Lord as not worthy of the Lord. This probably is the worst experience one would endure when he is a radical. But in fact it is the world that is not worthy of the radicals. Consider these verses, “…and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground…”(Hebrews 11: 36-38, NASB).
We cannot be as radical as the Lord without HIS strength and anointing. When we are radical, we will be hurt and that pain would entail sadness for us and our loved ones. Friends will desert us when we are radical for the Lord, but those who know the truth and understand the Christ of the Bible will remain with us. We need strength to endure rejection and insult.
Over the next few weeks I will endeavor to study the subject of “Radical Christ” and post my thoughts in form of this blog. I hope and pray that our New Year’s resolution is to be as radical as Christ was and as radical as Christ wants us to be in our own unique contexts now. I pray that HE would strengthen and anoint us with HIS precious Holy Spirit so to be Christlike in all our ways.
Will the message of this verse be your resolution for 2014, “we have left all that we ever had and followed you” (Luke 18: 28 J.B. Phillips NT)? Are we ready to discard lies / errors to follow Christ radically? Amen.
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