On Becoming A Radical Disciple

Society frowns on radicalism of any kind.  You can care about the environment, but just don’t be so radical about it.  You can believe in owning your own hand gun, but just don’t be radical about it.  You can be a Muslim or a Christian, but just don’t be a radical Muslim, or a radical Christian.

Seems as though being a radical-version of whatever we believe in is so frowned upon, that we are nurturing a society of nominalists.

What’s the difference?

Radical – One who advocates fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions (from Webster’s dictionary)

Nominalist – One who attends church regularly and worships devoutly, but who has no vital personal relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Or, one who attends church, but only for cultural reasons.  (from The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization)

What kind of disciple does Scripture say we’re to be?  We know we are not to be nominal, but does it really tell us we need to be “radical”…. “advocating for fundamental or revolutionary changes”?  Consider some of these passages:

23Then he [Jesus] said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

59He [Jesus] said to another man, “Follow me.”  But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  60Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”  62Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-62

When Jesus heard this [about the wealthy young man], he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22

37“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:37-39

Sounds pretty radical to me!  Is this what we see being produced and reproduced in 21st century Christian America?  If not, why not?  What we’re producing and reproducing depends on who we’re becoming, so ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you consider yourself a radical disciple of Jesus Christ?  Would God?
  • Who in your life (past or present) do you look at and think, “now he’s/she’s a radical Christian”?  Do you genuinely desire to emulate their devotion to the Lord?
  • What is keeping you from being a “sold out” follower and radically obedient disciple of Christ?  (fear, lack of trust, secret sins, materialism, etc.)

For me….I find myself too often simply being selfish with my time.  I have as much time in my day and week as anyone, and I spend all 168 hours on the things that I consider most important.  So, if I’m not devoting more time to the Lord, to engage my lost neighbors in spiritual conversations, to help those around me who need help, to disciple those around me who need to be discipled and equipped….then its not because I don’t have enough time…..it’s because I am not devoted enough to Christ.

Lord, thank you that your Son’s work on the cross was a sufficient sacrifice to cover over all my sins, including my sins of selfishness.  Lord, please continue to work on my heart to cause my affections to be consumed with a passion for your glory….and not to be content with the passing pleasures of this world.  Remind me that in my flesh I will only continue to be selfish no matter how hard I try to change.  I need you and the power of your Gospel for that kind of transformation.  Change me, Lord, by your grace and for your glory.

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4 thoughts on “On Becoming A Radical Disciple

  1. Being a radical is scary, yet Christ was as radical as you can get. He preached in the synagogues but not what the people worshiping there were used/wanted to hear. He rebuked the religious leaders of the day and told promiscuous women that they could have the water of life! Yet it is still scary to be a radical. You don’t want to be out of the norm, you want to blend in enough and stand out enough that you are noticed for your “Christianity” but never so much to be judged, criticized or scrutinized.

  2. Kristy – You’re right. Funny how the incarnate God can be nailed to a plank of wood on my behalf, but I’m not willing to be labeled a “radical” on His behalf.

    Most of us prefer to be ground hog Christians. We stick our head up out of our hole far enough to still be considered “a good Christian”, but not so far that we become targets of the things you mentioned (judging, criticism, and scrutiny).

  3. I think sometimes it is a realistic fear of failure as well. The more radically I commit to living, the more open to visual moments of complete failure to do so.

    One thing that will help people to live more radically in the church as a whole is for us to stop shooting our wounded. 🙂 When we see each other fall and fail miserably, we respond in sympathetic acknowledgment that we have been there and God got us past/through it to the other side.

  4. Shawna – Great point. A wounded soldier either surrenders to his wounds and dies, or he fights back at the ones who wounded him…neither of which we want to happen in ministry.

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