Radical Misrepresentation

by Lee Buford on November 10, 2010

What is radical? More specifically, what does a radical life lived out for the glory of God look like, and are we pursuing such a life?

I find it a bit concerning to hear so much emphasis on radical living and obedience in the church today. My concern doesn’t stem from a denial or confusion about God’s calling on our lives to be radical, but rather from the growing perception that we don’t have a clear, realistic concept of what it means or looks like. Many in our generation are leading the charge to live radically for Christ, to sell out to the principles laid out in the Bible for doing so, and there’s no doubt it’s a call we should embrace. But we must do so with great self-awareness, discernment, and prayer, lest we be merely touting our own self-righteousness and prideful quest for accomplishment and recognition.

Many self-proclaimed radicals want you to recognize them as such. In fact they go out of their way to ensure you see them as such. Many of our leaders preach to congregations of followers that “we are different”…we are doing it “God’s way,” effectively criticizing those who do it differently for being less obedient, less committed, and less radical.

But I believe God would hardly be impressed.

I’ve heard Francis Chan speak on the topic a couple of times, wisely cautioning us to consider the following…

If your life was placed in the pages of the Bible would those who read it consider you radical?

Hardly. At least in most cases.

And while this is not a plug for, or a book review, David Platt’s book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, is one I recommend you read. While you may not agree with it in all cases you will certainly be challenged to examine your own life in the context of what God expects from those who claim the title of “follower of Jesus.”

For me personally it’s about an accurate understanding of where I am in relation to God Himself, and more specifically my understanding of the immeasurable love, grace, and mercy He’s granted me…none of which I deserve or merit.

Jesus was radical. Paul was radical. I have hardly been anything close to radical.

So the next time any of us thinks or wants to convince someone that we or our church are “radical” for Jesus, we should consider at least these two questions:

If my life was laid out in the pages of Scripture would it look radical at all?

Is my desire to be seen as radical merely a manifestation of the pride in me, or is it truly my desire to live a life sold out and abandoned to God?

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