Saturday, November 30, 2013

Being Truly Radical

Radical, as defined in Merriam-Webster, means something that is very different from what is normal or traditional, and its synonym is extreme.  Personally, from the standpoint of the church, I think the term radical is worn out, over-used, and, in fact, misused and misapplied. The Christian life is radical…a radical departure from the life we used to live, the way we used to be, the habits and appetites we used to have, and the way we used to think. The whole of the Christian life is radical, because we have been set apart from sin unto God. In fact, it is radical because it is so different from the way in which the world lives and thinks. Therefore, the living out of a truly Christian life is radical in and of itself, we don’t have to make it radical. But because of the shallowness of evangelicals, and the tare-ridden condition of the churches, there is a misconception of what a true Christian is and how a true Christian lives…so the call to be radical has become a new mantra, when, in fact, the call should be to live and act as a true Christian.

The early Christians, and true Christians in all ages, have always lived in a manner radically different from their culture because they have been freed from sin and made alive in Christ.  Because the church in the West has been deceived into believing that it is to be a place to entice unbelievers instead of a worshiping gathering of believers, the life and witness of the church has been watered down, its expectations lowered, its demands softened, the purpose of its preaching changed, its call to sacrificial living derided, and its call to holiness ignored. By its becoming more like the culture that surrounds it because of all the unbelievers in its midst, the church has lost is saltiness and dimmed its light, and what has been termed nominal or carnal Christianity has become the accepted norm (However, there is no biblical precedent for either).  So the call to be radical has gone out. 

Friends, we don't need to live the radical Christian life, we just need to live the real Christian life...a biblical Christian life, the life of a living sacrifice for the Lord that true love prompts.  This will be radical, radical not only to the church at large, but also to the culture around us.  This will give the church a distinctive presence that will be truly different from what is considered normal, not only in our society, but in the church at large as well.  With all due respect to Francis Chan and David Platt, we don't need Crazy Love, or to be Radical, we need the preaching of the Word, the preaching of Christ, the preaching of the Gospel.  When those in the church are those who are truly saved, and those who are saved are strengthened in their faith, then we will see a truly radical church as it assumes more and more the identity of Christ.

So, in a sense, what we need in the church is radical preaching and radical expectations of what biblical preaching is.  We need preaching that is different from what is now considered the norm, preaching that confronts, cajoles, and commands (Sorry, Steven Furtick, this is not you).   However, this is what the Word does when preached correctly, expositorally. For this to take place, the Word must be preached without fear, the fear of man, but full of the fear of the Lord; for the church is not the primary or ultimate audience, but the Lord is.  

Let us pledge today to live a truly Christian life, and to faithfully preach the Word, and work to do just that.  For to do this is to be truly radical in our day and age.

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