Friday, March 15, 2013

Radical


             Most people who know me for any period of time would tell you that I am a “Jesus Freak”. I can talk to anyone about Jesus, anytime, anywhere. Most of the time, when you get me started talking about Jesus; you can’t get me to shut up. I love to tell people about Jesus what He did for me, what He is working in me and through me; I love to speak about His grace, love, mercy, goodness, faithfulness and all the other riches He bestows upon those who love them. I am sure I have driven some people nuts with my radical love for Jesus. But, isn't that what we are supposed to do? Jesus calls us to be radical, He calls us to be so immersed in Him that He is all that is seen and heard when people speak to us. But, do we allow the radical love He has for us permeate our lives and spill over into the lives of others?
                This morning, as I was sitting before my Lord and Savior, I began to ponder on all the things that have happened to my husband and me in the past few months. The changes that have taken place, the trials and troubles we have faced, and I heard the Lord say to me, “Be Radical.” For those who know me, I am not sure how much more radical I can be. But then, He reminded me of something Paul wrote to the church in Rome.
                “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith”. Romans 1:16-17
                Paul boldly proclaimed that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Paul knew that the love of Jesus Christ that was shed abroad on the cross was not for the religious, but for the sinner who needed salvation. Paul was not someone you could put in a pew on Sunday morning and expect him to stay put. He had to be radical; he had to preach and to teach the good news of Jesus Christ because Jesus worked a radical change in him that day on the road to Damascus. Paul was truly a “Jesus Freak”, and I have always admired him for that.
                Paul states that he is not ashamed. What does he mean by that? Ashamed is defined as someone who is “distressed or embarrassed by feelings of guilt, foolishness”…it is “unwilling or restrained because of fear of shame, ridicule or disapproval.” (Dictionary.com) Are we unwilling to step out of our boxes and be radical for Jesus? God is not ashamed of us, so why then are we ashamed of Him?
                You may be reading this and think that I have gone off the deep end, that it is all well and good for me, but you could never be radical for Christ. Perhaps that is what is happening to the churches today, we are too ashamed and afraid to step out of the normal confines of tradition and be radical for Jesus. My husband and I visited a church on Sunday that is radical. They are not ashamed to tell anyone and everyone about the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ. They go to the pits of darkness with no fear, only faith in the power of God to save those who are lost. It was encouraging, and transforming to see the radical love they have for the lost. They are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and they take the Great Commission seriously, every day- not just on Easter and special church events.
                Did not Jesus tell us to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20) This Great Commission was not just for the apostles, but it was given to all of us. Every single person who believes in Jesus Christ is given this commandment. Why then are we ashamed to step out of our little, safe, comfortable boxes and do what He has clearly asked us to do? Because we are ashamed, we are ashamed of what people might say, what people might think; we allow the looks and the thoughts of others hold us down in our own little world of comfort, justifying in our minds that we are not gifted with evangelism, that is someone else’s gift. God is not ashamed to tell the world, the angels and all that heaven and earth contain that you are His child, why are you ashamed to tell the person standing in front of you at the check-out lane that you are His?
                Radical means to be extreme; it can be taken as a negative word. But the root word comes from an extreme change from the traditional or accepted. Was Jesus traditional? Did He seek to do what was accepted by others? No, He came to show us how to be radical, how to break the bonds of comfortable and safe and be all that He desires us to be. We allow so many opportunities go by because we are afraid of what someone might say. What if someone from your church saw you talking about Jesus to a stranger, what would they think? What would they say if you became radical? Would they tell you to put a lid on it, or would they come alongside you and be radical with you?
                The Lord has shown me how over the past few years I have allowed myself to be put into a box. I have become comfortable with serving Him in my church, teaching the children His word, and just being safe in my own little world. But, in the past two weeks I have seen and heard His leading for me to be radical, to not be ashamed to tell others about the salvation that is found in Him, in the work He has done for us on the Cross. Sooner or later, we have to step out of the comfortable boxes of our faith and be radical for Christ. The Lord has shown me what comfortable looks like, and it is not a place I want to be anymore.
                Comfortable is you, and me, standing in a pit of mud, the more comfortable you get, the less you move, you begin to sink down into it and the mud begins to harden into cement. Eventually, being comfortable will suffocate you, and your faith in Him will harden, just as the mud you are standing in. We choose to be comfortable or we choose to be radical. We can stay in that little box of comfort that requires you to only do and be Jesus Freaks at church each week, or we can go out and do what He has commanded us to do- make disciples, proclaiming the love and salvation that only comes through the revealed righteousness of God by faith. The choice is yours, you can stay in your comfort zone or you can choose to become radical, just like Jesus, and all those who followed after Him in faith.
                “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes….” I am not ashamed, are you?