A Radicalised Church

In a recent devotional I wrote the following, “...it is at these times more than ever that the church needs to stand and be the representation of Christ that God has called us to be.” The same devotional then went on to speak about the importance for followers of Christ to be radical in their faith. And since I wrote the devotional, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. So much so, that with encouragement, I wanted to extend the idea.

However, as I also mentioned in the same devotional, over the years, the word radical has become a dirty word! It comes with the connotations of violence, causing harm, death. All over the world, we see monstrosities being carried out in the name of ‘radicalism’. And so therefore, I can’t help but feel that over time, the church has become both moderate and comfortable in an attempt to not be seen as ‘radical’ with the negative connotations that now come with that word.

However, here is the catch 22... without being radical... it is impossible to be the representation of Christ in the world that God has called us to be! Why? Because Jesus was radical! In fact, there was no one more so! Jesus walked the earth and within communities, and the things that he did and the things that he said challenged the very core of society. It challenged the religious ideologies. It went against belief systems. It would have shook those who saw and heard the things he said and did; it made people look up, it made people ask questions, it changed peoples lives.

Let’s for one minute just consider some of the things that Jesus did and said during his time on earth.

  • He touched lepers
  • He associated with sinners
  • He ate with tax collectors
  • He healed on the Sabbath
  • He said ‘love your enemies’ and ‘turn the other cheek’
  • He said that we need to die to self and pick up our daily crosses
  • He said I AM
  • He said we should forgive without keeping count
  • He turned over the money tables in the temple
  • He healed the sick
  • He raised the dead
  • He loved unconditionally
  • He spoke about giving beyond ability
  • He brought a radical message!

The list could go on and on, and no doubt you have thought of plenty of other things that Jesus either did or said that would have been radical within the society he lived. Here is the point: There was absolutely nothing that was moderate about Jesus during his time and ministry on earth. He was radical!

Last week, I came across this quote from a book by David Platt, an American pastor and author. He wrote “I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what was radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.” I don’t know how you feel about the quote, but it convicted me. It brought me to the place of asking myself the following questions: ‘Am I living my life as I should? Am I being Christ-like in the community around me? Am I being that representation of Christ in a broken community? Or am I comfortable? Am I content with how things are? Have I lost the passion, the radical faith I once had?’

As the Body of Christ, those saved by the radical grace of God, loved with the radical love of God and recipients of God’s radical mercy, just how truly desperate are we to see the glory of God revealed in our community through us? Desperate enough to get out of our comfort zones? Desperate enough to leave the comfort of the four walls of the church building and out into a broken community?

I can’t help but feel in recent years, the church in general across the UK has come to a place of doing things in our communities that look and sound good but have lacked. For example, we do things like litter-picks or paint walls. We organise fun days, or put on events. No doubt we can all think of different things. We recognise that evangelism is important, but now we adapt our evangelism to make it easier and more friendly and we call it ‘friendship evangelism’. However, what we tend to find happens is that there is plenty of friendship going on but not a lot of evangelism. And so we end up with new friends, but no new disciples, as all we ever did was make friends with them, but never got round to sharing the Gospel. Now some of these aren’t necessarily bad things to be doing, however, if the message of salvation isn’t being brought to the lost then these things are futile. We need to be those that take the message of Christ crucified into our communities. We need to be those, as followers of Christ, that bring a message of hope to the hopeless. We need to be those that bring a message of peace to the restless. We need to be those that bring light into the darkness. When questions are being asked, we need to be there with answers.

As the Body of Christ, and the representation of Christ in our communities, we need to be those that return to a radical faith, and live our lives just as Christ did, in order that the glory of God can be revealed into our communities through the life that we live. We need to be those that love unconditionally (that love God, love each other, love our neighbours and love our enemies). We need to be those that show deep compassion and deep kindness. We need to be those that give generously, beyond our ability and not expecting anything in return. We need to be those that take care of the poor and needy. We need to be those that hold nothing back. We need to be those that pray for the sick in faith, and eat with the ‘modern-day tax collectors’. We need to be those that are able to forgive without keeping record. We need to be those that open up our homes and are hospitable. And in all these things we need to be carriers of the message of salvation, available to all through Christ Jesus.

Why do we need to be these things? Because this is how Jesus was - radical! And when we as the church come back to the place of coming out of our comfort zones, and returning back to a radical faith, then we will start to see the glory of God revealed.

So for myself, and I can only speak for myself - I want to come back to having that kind of faith, and I want to be held accountable. So feel free to pull me up and to question me. Feel free to ask me how it is going and how I am doing. This is an area where God has been speaking to me and challenging me these last couple of weeks.

And what about you reading this? Have you fallen into a comfort zone? Have you, as David Platt put it in that quote “...missed what was radical about your faith and replaced it with something comfortable?” Do you, like me need to return to that radical faith? That’s only a question that you can answer! But if the whole church, the whole Body of Christ chose to turn away for their comfort and back to a radical faith, what a difference that would make!

Let’s be ‘The Radicalised Church’ that God has called us to be.

Richard Cowling




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