The ordinary radical

In the current tension between “radical” (via David Platt, Francis Chan, et al) and the case for the “ordinary” (latest from Michael Horton), there is some sort of balance to strike.

We don’t want complacency in our lives, but we should learn something of the term Paul calls content. 

We don’t want our lives so set on edge we burn the spiritual and mental gears out before we’re 30, but we need to hear the urgency of a world still needing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I think in living ordinary lives, walking intentionally with Jesus, we find extraordinary opportunities. They are not necessarily everyday, but they are wonderful. It was in a very “ordinary” service over 2 years ago the Lord first spoke to me about planting churches and then, a month later, “owning” a country. It was the ordinary daily routine a year ago the Spirit spoke and said, “You’ll be in Africa next year.”

And, in an extraordinary way, it happened.

It’s a both/and world, folks. Not either/or.

The “Radical” We Must Be

Life in the Kingdom is meant to be life at its fullest. Our problem is we settle for “good enough” when the Kingdom calls us to “God’s best.”

The demand of the Kingdom is this: God’s perfection. We don’t understand that, so we settle for “good enough.”

The moment we settle for “good enough,” we become Pharisees. That’s not just for conservative legalistic Christians. There are plenty of “liberal” Christian Pharisees, too.

We ALL have that danger, and that is what Jesus wants to show us. The freedom of the Kingdom is so much more, but we just don’t believe it.

The Sermon on the Mount is about freedom. Freedom from anxiety, from anger, from lust, from retaliation, from hatred. The invitation is live free of those very common maladies in our world. We just don’t think it’s possible, so we reduce our Christianity to what is “good enough” for “me.”

The “radical” we must be is the one who will finally break free and say, “I truly desire God’s best.”

That has a high call, but the Kingdom has provided all the power to get it done. The tools are all there. We just refuse to pick them up. We look at the tools in the tool box and think, “Wow. Nice tools.”

It never occurs to us to pick them up and use them in their intended purposes.

If we pull one out we know, we use it all the time. We have a hammer, and everything becomes a nail. We need a broader vision.

THAT is being radical.

There is ALWAYS Something to Attack

Just when I think I find something new to explore, to look at and see if it something that begins to describe what I am sensing in my own spiritual life, along comes an attack on that exact position. Anthony Bradley takes a swing at the terms “missional” and “radical” and calls it the “new legalism.”

Just when I was liking Greg Boyd a few years ago, I began reading things from others about why I should hate Greg Boyd.

Before that it was John Maxwell.

Before that it was Chuck Swindoll.

There is always something to attack.

Bradley’s whole premise seems to be, “Hey! Why can’t we be normal?”

To which I says, “Why NOT?”

First of all, who in the world really knows what MISSIONAL really is? I mean, even missional people can’t define it! They start with, “Well, it’s not…”  Thirty minutes later, I’m asleep and their still getting to what it might be.

But as for Bradley’s definition he says: This term is used to describe a church community where people see themselves as missionaries in local communities.

Wow. How offensive. How undesirable.

Are there cautions? Of course there are cautions. There are always cautions. Greg Boyd, as much as I still like him, is ticking me off by his non-answers more and more. There is always something NOT to like.

By the way, I like John Piper, too. Now, I’m really messed up!

Radical Christianity. Bradley calls this narcissistic. Listening to David Platt, I hear about going to the unreached peoples of the world. Give up some comfortable things and go serve a world that has yet to hear the gospel. I am not a philosophy major, so I may be shooting in the dark on this one, but that just doesn’t sound very narcissistic. But, what do I know? I don’t have a PhD.

To be clear, I DO agree with Bradley on the need for caution. But only on the need for caution. Legalism? Maybe some signs. But I can find those signs anywhere. I think Lutherans are legalistic about calling people Pelagian. 😉

In some missional leaders and “radical” leaders I don’t find people using shame. I find them using challenges. Challenges from the Gospels. That’s just downright offensive, I know. I want to sleep in more myself!

Bradley asks why can’t we just love God and love our neighbors? I completely agree. But with some missional and “radical” writing I find some very helpful ways to put feet on those ideas. Not always, but there are some helps there.

If you are tired and weary, by all means take a break. Rest. Find rest in Christ. Find rest in my church! Don’t feel like you have to go “kill” yourself to please me, some other preacher, or some other church.

But at some point, find a way to love God and love your neighbor. Get beyond yourself again. Find some challenges. They don’t have to be the same challenges of a Shane Claiborne or David Platt. They need to be from the Spirit. But rise to that challenge.

So, I am thankful that Bradley has finally given me a better definition of “missional.” It’s a definition I can really latch on to, whether I wear dreadlocks and live in an urban commune or not!

No Place for Timid Hearts

As I read Radical and think of missionary heroes, there is a stirring in my heart about THIS being the time to step out in faith. We can’t wait for others. We need to hear the voice of the Spirit.
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

Again in the Apocrypha, the CEB translated a verse in Sirach 2:13 that challenges me:

13 How terrible it will be for the timid heart.
Because it doesn’t trust,
therefore it won’t be protected.

The NRSV:

Woe to the fainthearted who have no trust!

Therefore they will have no shelter.

The CEB helps me with a bit more clarity. Following God is not for the faint of heart. It is not for the timid. It is the call to be all in.