Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thought for the Day

Our motive for obedience is just as important,
probably more so, to God than the level of our performance.

Jerry Bridges
Discipline of Grace
Page 123

Friday, April 29, 2011

Thinking Right Thoughts

"The greatest sorrow and burden you can lay on the Father,
the greatest unkindness you can do to Him is not to believe
that He loves you."

John Owen
Communion with God

But God demonstrates His own love for us,
in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Christians and Culture, Being Radical in Our Faith

Radical, it is defined as being very different from the usual or ordinary, or, in some cases, extreme.  We as Christians are being urged and encouraged, pushed and prodded to be radical...radical in our Christianity, or to be radical Christians.  A couple of books come to mind that encourage this radicalness; and they are Crazy Love by Francis Chan, and Radical by David Platt.  There seems, in some areas, to be this push, this rush to be radical in our faith by being radical in our love; but if we take a step back, and really look at this topic from a biblical perspective we see that we are already radical if we are living and loving as the Scriptures tell us to.

We are talked to about radical love, we are urged to be radical in our love, but to love like we are commanded in the Scriptures is a radical (being very different from the usual or ordinary, so in a sense contrary to the usual or customary) love.  This love as laid out in the Scriptures is the antithesis of the affections, the love of the world.  The world does not operate in the sphere of biblical love, so for us to simply be and do what the Scriptures say is to be radically contrary to what we see in the culture, whether it is American, African, Asian, Australian, European, South American, or even Canadian.  Living out
the love in Scriptures will radicalize our life and behavior against the cultural norm in any culture in any time.

The prevailing love in any culture is always and has always been self-directed, self-promoting, self-serving, self-focused, self-fulfilling, self-pleasing; truly being an all about self love. So when the love of the Scriptures is lived out in the midst of the culture, it truly goes against the grain of the cultural norm.

For example, let's take the greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  To love God like this is to take the love you have for self, and place it all, direct it all on the Lord God.  This is radical, this is very different than the norm; and is, in fact, extreme, as it goes against the stream of the all encompassing self love that exists in every culture, by replacing that self love with an all encompassing love for God.

Next, let's look at the second greatest commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves.  This love does no wrong to a neighbor as it does not covet what is his (How many wars have been fought because of this?), treats him/her as we would want to be treated, is not arrogant towards him/her, does not lie to him, does not malign or slander, does not gossip, does not return evil for evil, but gives a blessing instead.  In short it puts everyone on the same level as the self.  Again, pretty radical for the self-vaunting, self-esteem at all cost culture, not just in our land but in every culture.

Finally, let's look at the third commandment on love, the commandment from Christ to love one another as he has loved us.  This is a command for Christians and it is a command to follow the example of Christ and to love other Christians in the same way and to the same extent as He loved us.  How did He love us?  He gave Himself up for us as a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (Ephesians 5:1-2, Galatians 2:20).  To walk in--to live in and live out--this kind of self-sacrificial love is contrary to, and would be considered extreme in every culture.  It was extreme in the Greek and Roman culture of Christ's time, which was why the Greek word for this kind of love, agape, was so scarcely used.

So for us to be radical, we must simply, faithfully, and consistently live out the Christian life as it is presented in the Scriptures.  This is what radicalizes the Christian and the Christian subculture within whatever culture they find themselves.  Our faith, rightly lived, is radical, is extreme, is not the normal or usual way to be and live in the culture of this world.  So let's don't worry about being radical, or being crazy or extreme in our love.  Instead let's pursue being the best Christian we can be.  That will make us radical in whatever culture we find ourselves.