The Dirty Little "R" Word
The word has been co-opted to mean something negative, evil, and distasteful. It is rarely used positively and if a person or organization is labeled with this word it is a stigma that is difficult, if not impossible to remove. The word is Radical.
Of course in today's political discourse it is used to describe ISIS, Radical Islamist. It conjures up pictures of gun wheeling, bomb throwing, decapitating thugs who use force to spread their agenda. If I were to apply the word Radical to republican or democrat what visceral response would you have? Radical Republican, Radical Democrat. I can see either side cringe at the thought. We see our appoint's worse and then attach radical to it and know the end is near.
How, for instance, do you respond to the phrase Radical Christian? It depends on your point of view. To some the words Radical Christian conjure up freedom restricting, homophobic, gun promoting, death penalty advocates, and tea toters. But for others it describes loving, gracious, serving, sacrificial, and forgiving people.
The word radical is merely descriptive or how a person engages in their core beliefs. Jesus said that they would know us by our fruits. Our fruits are the product of what goes on inside. As believers we are to be holy as he is holy, and to love others as Christ has loved us.
The first, holiness, is the product of what God has done for the church and is metastasized within the body of Christ. We judge ourselves and challenge one another to pursue holiness, because we have the power, in the Holy Spirit, to accomplish it. Holiness is our recreation into the image of Christ. However, our holiness was never meant to be used as a weapon against those who do not believe. Their sin isn't to object of our wrath, but of our love.
Our love for one another spills out into the world as we engage people with the gospel, which is the expression of God's love toward sinners. We don't accept their sin, but we love them sacrificially. We don't condone their lifestyles but we love them and show them a better way. We don't expect them to be like us, because without the Holy Spirit it is impossible. We love them, we serve them, and we show them the goodness of God. That is Radical Christianity.
Can you imagine this conversation:
"Watch out, here come those Radical Christians."
"Why, what's going to happen?" Another asked.
"Wait and see, they're going to feed the poor, heal the sick, and stand up for the downtrodden." The first opined.
"What's wrong with that?"
"What's wrong with that? I'll tell you what's wrong with that." he pauses. "Nothing, I guess, but isn't the government suppose to do that?"
In our drive to rid the world of sin, I hope we will be known for our Radical love. For only the love of God poured out on the cross, demonstrated by the resurrection, and empowered by the Holy Spirit in Christ can accomplish it. Go out and be radical today. I'm just saying.