John Stott. Billy Graham. J.I. Packer. Hudson Taylor. A Missionary. A Pastor. A parish councillor. They are the truly radical Christians; faithful disciples who have a special measure of spiritual ability. They read their Bibles and pray regularly.They can leap tricky Bible passages in a single mental bound. They make sacri- fices for Jesus without batting an eyelid. They know stuff about the Bible and theology and their wisdom and insight is well, actually wise and insightful. But is there really such a thing as a ‘Radical Christian’?
As I talk to people about living the Christian life it seems that a lot of Christians think in terms of ‘class’ or ‘category’ of Christians. On the one hand there are the radical ‘Super Christians’. But on the other hand, they say, there’s ‘me’. You know, the ‘normal’, everyday kind of Christian. I’d like to read my Bible more. I’d like to be more wise. I’d like to make godly and insightful choices and decisions about what I do. I’d like to be more regular in my attendance at Bible Study and Church. But in the end, I’m not like the ‘Radical Christians’. So it’s ok. Two classes of Christian and two classes of Christian living. But is that right?
While it’s true that God does gift his church with people of different skills, abilities, intellectual and artistic ca- pacities, it’s not true that there are different categories of Christian. There are Christians. And there are those who don’t love and worship Jesus. When we talk about living the Christian life as if there are ‘normal Christians’ and ‘radical Christians’, we miss the point that to be a Christian is to be radical. We miss the point that the promises God speaks to his people are for all of his people. We miss the point that the transformed life of the believer is something that flows from the very fact that we are indeed changed. All Christians have been radically changed to the core. In fact, since the word radical means ‘root’, we should say that all Christians are radical: Our identity has been radically transformed. We are a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5). We have died and been raised
to life in him (2 Cor 5; Gal 2). We have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light (Col 1).
So far this term across all of our congregations we’ve been reminded again and again of who we are if we are a Christian. No categories or distinctions or exceptions. Just people who have been radically changed by Jesus and called to live a radical life. Here’s just some of the things that spring to mind from our current sermon series (some of these might come from upcoming sermons for your congregation):
• We are all members of the one body (the church), each called to do our part in building up the body. No one person is more important. No one person is less important (Eph 4; 1 Cor 12).
• The time we live in now is the end time. It is the time that God has given so that people might hear the gospel and be saved. (Acts 2; 2 Peter 3; Matt 13:24-30, 36-43).
• All Christians are called to be his end time workers. We are to be disciples making disciples (Matt 28). We are a kingdom of priests, set apart to point people to God through Jesus (1 Peter 2:9-10). We are God’s people in Jesus, created to do his work of building and making disciples (Eph 2:1-10; Titus 2).
• We have been transferred into the infinitely valuable Kingdom of God, a kingdom whose value is matched by the joy and reward we receive in being a part of it. We define what it is valuable in terms of the value of the kingdom (Matt 13:44-53).
Suddenly, the conversation shifts. We’re no longer talking about doing radical things or being hardcore or super- Christian feats of godliness... or about ‘others’. We’re talking about ‘me’. Not about what I do, but about who I am in Jesus. Each week as I’ve been reminded of who I am and what I’m called to be because of who I am in Jesus, I’ve felt a lot of things. Encouraged. Emboldened. Rebuked. Confused. Saddened. Joyful. Thankful.
In the midst of all of that is one more emotion that has been surprising me a little bit, until I figured why. It’s relief. Why relief? Relief that I know who I am. Relief that I know what I’m meant to be doing. Relief that what I do does not make me who I am, or that it does not make precious in God’s sight. Relief there’s not some category of Christian life that only the best Christians can hope to attain-if they could only discover how-while the rest of us go on being lowly ‘normals’. Relief that however much the world around me changes and and constantly catches me off-guard, some things never change. I am in Christ. I am called to do his work. His work is to be a disciple making disciples.
So what is a radical Christian anyway? Simple. A radical Christian is nothing more than a Christian being a Christian. It’s nothing special or exclusive. It’s just living the life we are called to live in Jesus. It is God who makes me who I am. I have been radically changed. I already have by faith every blessing in Christ Jesus that I need to live the life given to me in him. Because of that, I can get on the with radical business of faithfully being who I am in Christ. Brendan Moar