Summary: If we want to be "radical" believers we must return to our roots in the Book of Romans.
Making Peace With God
Rev. Brian Bill
Our world is whacked out and the lack of peace is pervasive. First we hear that spinach is no longer safe and then the Pope got in trouble with some Muslims for quoting an old emperor, inflaming the Islamic world. The leaders of Venezuela and Iran bashed the United States at the U.N., with one of them calling President Bush “the devil.” I heard this week that NBC is considering airing a Madonna concert which shows her performing a song during a mock crucifixion while she hangs suspended from a cross. I also learned that while NBC is now airing Veggie Tales on Saturday mornings, the producers were ordered to edit out all Bible references just two weeks before the first episode was due to air.
And then there were those charming comments from Rosie O’Donnell when she compared “radical Christianity” to those who killed 3,000 people on 9/11. This is what she said: “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America.” (See www.breakpoint.org for more information).
How do we respond to all of this and more? I see at least three options.
• Protest in love. There’s a place for protest because people need to hear from Christians, provided we do so with grace. I sent an email to WEEK-TV in Peoria this week, expressing my concerns about the Madonna Concert. I tried to do it politely and with love. I did get a response almost immediately that said in part: “We frankly agree that Madonna’s music and stylistic approach is clearly not for everyone... If the Madonna special, or any program on NBC for that matter, appears inappropriate viewing for you and your family, I would strongly encourage you not to watch…thanks for your thoughts and we will be happy to pass them along to NBC on your behalf.” I did hear later in the week that this concert may not be aired after all.
• Political involvement. In a democracy like ours, it behooves people to vote their conscience, and to be involved in the political process. Incidentally, even Nancy Pelosi, one of Bush’s strongest critics, has come to his defense, calling Hugo Chavez a “thug” for disrespecting our commander-in-chief.
• Permeate our culture with peace. While it’s good to protest at times, and to be involved politically, I’d like to suggest that the most important thing Christians can do is to live out what they say they believe and proclaim the gospel of peace. In fact, a case could be made that we protest too much and turn to politics too quickly. As I mentioned last week, since the end is near, we must bend our ears and hear what God is saying to the church. It’s time to wake up and worship, to stop sleeping and start serving, and to live in light of who we really are so that we can permeate our culture.
In other words, we do need to become radical in our faith. I looked up this word and found out that it has a number of definitions that apply to us. I’m quite sure this is not how Rosie O’Donnell is using the term.
• “Getting to the root or source.” As we’ve been emphasizing these past weeks, part of our vision this year is to grow deeper with Christ. I hope you’re planning to take one of the “Dive Deep” classes that will begin next month. Someone defined “radical” this way: “Radical simply means grasping things at the root.” We’re praying as we return to our roots, that according to Ephesians 3:18 we “may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
• “Departing from the usual or customary.” When we go deeper, we’ll depart from customary Christianity and benign belief. Unfortunately, too many of us have settled for a soft spirituality. What we might consider “radical” today is simply normal Christianity. Arthur Wallis, in his book called “The Radical Christian,” says: “If any man professes to call himself a child of God, a disciple of Christ, or a citizen of the kingdom, and yet is bereft of this radicalism, he would be well advised to take a long hard look at his Christian profession…The radical Christian is not a special Christian. He simply qualifies for New Testament normality.” The Bible knows of no other Christian than a “radical” one.
One of our students was recently asked why she talked about God all the time. I love her answer: “Because He is my life.” In the early church, radical Christians were not called radical, they were just called Christians. On Sunday nights our students are learning how to rescue themselves from ordinary lives in order to have extraordinary lives that thrive and not just survive. Ordinary living is safe, comfortable and boring but makes no impact. Extraordinary living on the other hand is risky, uncomfortable and adventurous, but makes a high impact.